Facebook Whistleblower Congressional Hearing: 4 Big Takeaways


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While appearing before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook project manager who revealed her identity on 60 Minutes on Sunday, testified that the social media site’s products “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” and that congressional intervention is needed.

The hearing came in the wake of Haugen leaking tens of thousands of pages of company documents to senators showing that Facebook has failed to fix numerous problems that it’s long known about, and in some cases made them worse. The documents became the subject of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal in September that detailed internal Facebook research and alleged that Instagram is “toxic” to teens’, and specifically teen girls’, mental health.
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Read More: The Facebook Whistleblower Revealed Herself on 60 Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know

Here’s what to know about Haugen’s testimony.

‘Big Tobacco moment’

Following Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal opening the hearing by stating that Facebook, and Big Tech as a whole, is facing a “Big Tobacco moment,” Haugen repeatedly spoke to allegations that “Facebook is prioritizing profit over people.”

Comparisons were made between the ways in which Facebook and tobacco are both addictive and profitable, but ultimately unhealthy for users. Blumenthal also referenced the tobacco’s industry’s history of hiding its own research on the harmful impact of its products in connection to Haugen’s allegations against Facebook.

Eating disorder content from Instagram’s algorithm

Although Facebook announced on Sept. 27 that it was pausing the development of an Instagram for kids under 13 amid public backlash, Haugen testified that the company knows that Instagram causes “severe harm” to children and teens.

Haugen said Facebook claims that it can’t find underage kids on the platform because they lie about their age when they sign up, but testified to…



Source : time


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