Whistleblower tells MPs: ‘Anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook’

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen giving evidence to the joint committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill (Credits: PA)
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen giving evidence to the joint committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill (Credits: PA)

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen has given a scathing account of Facebook in a question and answer session with MPs.

The whistleblower has been a critic of the social network and previously shared hundreds of internal documents with the media.

Appearing in front of parliament’s Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill, she answered questions on the inner workings of the biggest social media company in the world.

Ms Haugen said that the tech giant was ‘very good at dancing with data’ and that its algorithms helped ‘prioritise extreme content’.

‘Part of why I came forward is that I am extremely worried about the condition of our societies … and of the interaction of the choices that Facebook has made and how it plays out more broadly,’ she said.

Ms Haugen told the parliamentary select committee that the social media giant was ‘unquestionably’ making online hate worse.

‘We didn’t invent hate, we didn’t invent ethnic violence. And that is not the question.

‘The question is what is Facebook doing to amplify or expand hate … or ethnic violence?’

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen giving evidence to the joint committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill, as part of government plans for social media regulation. Picture date: Monday October 25, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Facebook. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire
Frances Haugen answered questions from MPs (Credits: PA)

Ms Haugen has also accused the tech giant of being aware of the apparent harm Instagram could have on some teenagers and their body image, and said the firm had been dishonest in its public fight against hate content and misinformation by hiding research that shows it amplifies such content.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has rejected the claims made by Ms Haugen, saying her attacks on the company were ‘misrepresenting’ the work it does.

He said the company ‘cares deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health’ and that Ms Haugen’s recent evidence to a US congressional committee ‘just doesn’t reflect the company we know’.

‘At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritise profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true,’ he added.

Senior campaigner Flora Rebello Arduini with a 4-metre-high installation, depicting Mark Zuckerberg surfing on a wave of cash and surrounded by teenagers, outside the Houses of Parliament in London, before Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to MPs as part of government plans for social media regulation. Picture date: Monday October 25, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Facebook . Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Campaigner Flora Rebello Arduini with a 4-metre-high installation, depicting Mark Zuckerberg surfing on a wave of cash and surrounded by teenagers, outside the Houses of Parliament (Credits: PA)

Facebook is reportedly planning to rebrand its business name in an apparent bid to distance its wider business from the slew of controversies in recent years.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said ‘tech companies have a moral duty to keep their users safe’ following a meeting with Haugen. Ms Patel said it was a ‘constructive meeting’ on online safety.

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