FB whistleblower calls for regulation

Bringing to light: Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifying during a Senate Committee hearing.  

A Facebook whistleblower went before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to push them to regulate the social media giant, after an outage hit potentially billions of users and highlighted global dependence on its services.

Ex-employee Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill after she leaked reams of internal research to authorities and The Wall Street Journal, which detailed how Facebook knew its sites were potentially harmful to young people's mental health. She spoke to Senators less than a day after Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp went offline for roughly seven hours, with “billions of users” impacted, according to tracker Downdetector.

Ms. Haugen warned in a pre-prepared statement of the risk of not creating new safeguards for a platform that reveals little about how it operates. “I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” her statement said. "Congressional action is needed. They won’t solve this crisis without your help.”

In her testimony, she notes the danger of the power in the hands of a service that is woven into the daily lives of so many people.

Concerns on privacy

“The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government and from governments around the world,” Ms. Haugen's statement said. “The severity of this crisis demands that we break out of our previous regulatory frames.”

U.S. lawmakers for years have threatened to regulate Facebook and other social media platforms to address criticisms that the tech giants trample on privacy, provide a megaphone for dangerous misinformation and damage young people’s well-being.

Ms. Haugen, a 37-year-old data scientist from Iowa, has worked for companies including Google and Pinterest — but said in an interview on Sunday with CBS news show 60 Minutes that Facebook was “substantially worse” than anything she had seen before.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 9:51:14 AM |

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