The whistleblower behind the huge Facebook document cache leak in the Wall Street newspaper, Frances Haugen, went public on 60 minutes Sunday, further revealing the inner workings of the world’s most powerful social media platform. Revealing his identity on national television, Haugen described a company so committed to product optimization that it adopted algorithms that amplify hate speech.
“He pays his profits with our security,” Haugen said 60 minutes host Scott Pelley.
According to a LinkedIn profile since deleted, Haugen was a product manager at Facebook assigned to the Civic Integretity group. She chose to leave the company in 2021 after the group’s dissolution. She said she “didn’t believe they were ready to invest what really needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.”
As a result, she disclosed a cache of internal SEC research in hopes of improving regulation of the company. She noted that she had worked at several companies, including Google and Pinterest, but that “it was significantly worse at Facebook” due to the company’s desire to put its profits before the well-being of its users. .
“There was a conflict … between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Pelley, “and Facebook chose to optimize again and again for its own interests – like winning more money.”
While the company repeatedly claims it helps end hate speech, at least on its own products, an internal Facebook document leaked by Haugen states: [Violence and Incitement] on Facebook when he’s the best in the world at it.
Another document was even more direct. “We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech and disinformation on Facebook and the family of apps affects societies around the world. “
Haugen says the root of the problem lies in the algorithms deployed in 2018 that govern what you see on the platform. According to her, they’re supposed to drive engagement and the company has found that the best engagement is one that instills fear and hatred in users. “It’s easier to inspire people with anger than with other emotions,” Hagen said.
At the time, Mark Zuckerberg presented the algorithm changes as positive. “We take responsibility for making sure that our services are not only fun to use, but also good for the well-being of people. ”
But according to the the Wall Street newspaper‘s on Haugen’s concerns, the result was a sharp turn to anger and hatred. “Misinformation, toxicity and violent content are excessively prevalent among repartitions,” said an internal memo quoted by the Journal, assessing the effects of the change.
The the Wall Street newspaper began publishing its discovery of the cache as “The Facebook Files” in September. A report alleging that Facebook had research proving Instagram harmed teenage girls has since led to a congressional hearing. Prior to the hearing, Facebook attempted to change the narrative in a blog post, which reproduced two of the reports mentioned in the Newspaperreports.
Ahead of 60 minutes report, Facebook attempted the same hijackings in a different form. Global Affair Facebook VP Nick Clegg appeared on CNN Reliable sources defend the company Sunday afternoon, just hours before Haugen’s appearance.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Clegg said of the allegation that social media was responsible for the January 6 riots. “I think it reassures people to assume that there must be a technological or technical explanation for the problems of political polarization in the United States.”
Haugen ended the interview by calling for broader regulation of social media, which Facebook itself has called for in a more limited form. She is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a Senate panel on trade.
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