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Facebook Whistleblower: Social Media Giant is 'Tearing Our Societies Apart'

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is accusing her former company of "tearing our societies apart" in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes.

"The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world," Haugen told 60 Minutes.

She accused the social media giant of placing profit above the good of the public. She said this continued even after Facebook leadership made assurances that the company was working to make the platform safer.

‘They only stopped because they got caught’

"There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money," Haugen said.

The CBS interview took place after the whistleblower brought her accusations—and company documents—to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper then published reports revealing the private machinations of Facebook, the specifics of which were previously not known.

Her documents showed that the social media company’s own internal research showed that they knew some of its products were harming the mental health of some of its users, most notably teen girls.

Putting profit ahead of the public good

"Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed. And it actually makes them use [Instagram] more," Haugen said. "Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money. Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety."

Haugen is a data scientist with a computer engineering degree and a Harvard MBA who took the job at Facebook in order to combat misinformation after losing a friend to online conspiracy theories. She admits that the company took some steps to combat misinformation during the 2020 election. She said many of those policies were only temporary.

Haugen believes that the federal government should now act to regulate the company. That notion has gained more traction among lawmakers since her story broke.

Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation aimed at holding social media companies accountable for the harm they cause, particularly to teens.

“Like Big Tobacco before it, Big Tech pushes products it knows are harmful," a spokesperson for Hawley said. "At a Senate hearing last week, a Facebook representative would not even say, in response to questioning by Senator Hawley, that using Instagram is safe. Social media companies should not be allowed to continue profiting from exploiting children."

Holding companies accountable

Social media companies, like all other large corporations, must be held accountable for the damage they cause, and whistleblowers play a vital role in holding these bad actors responsible.

They courageously stand up to corruption and other illegal activities, putting their careers and their personal safety on the line for the greater good. Their brave actions can make a big difference.

If you think you might have a case, our attorneys have the knowledge and the expertise you need to succeed. Don’t underestimate the seriousness or complexity of your whistleblower case. Don’t assume you can handle everything on your own. Make sure you have a lawyer with an in-depth understanding of such legal cases on your side. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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