Former insider says Facebook knowingly chooses profits over safety

A former insider and now whistleblower is charging that Facebook repeatedly chose business paths that would make it the most money – even at the expense of consumers’ safety.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reports Frances Haugen appeared on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” she said. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

The report explained the former Facebook product manager leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month detailing the web company’s operations including that Facebook “employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.”

“Facebook has demonstrated they cannot act independently. Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety,” Haugen said. “It is subsidizing, it is paying for its profits with our safety.”

The corporation has regularly been embroiled in controversies over the use of consumer information, its privacy rules, its censorship agenda and more. One of the bigger issues in recent months was founder Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to hand out $350 million to mostly leftist elections officials across the country to help them run last year’s presidential election.

Haugen specifically pointed to Facebook’s actions prior to events last Jan. 6 at the Capitol, where hundreds got out of hand, broke windows and doors and vandalized parts of the building.

She charged that some of Facebook’s decisions contributed to that.

“I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous,” she said.

She also has filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Facebook misled its investors regarding the harms and practices of its platform.

A report from CBS explained her complaints charge that “Facebook’s own research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest—but the company hides what it knows. One complaint alleges that Facebook’s Instagram harms teenage girls. What makes Haugen’s complaints unprecedented is the trove of private Facebook research she took when she quit in May. The documents appeared first, last month, in the Wall Street Journal.”

The report said she secretly copied tens of thousands of pages of Facebook’s internal document and she charges the company is lying to the public about making significant progress against hate, violence and misinformation.

One study she cited said the company estimates “we may action as little as 3-5% of hate and about 6-tenths of 1% of V & I [violence and incitement] on Facebook despite being the best in the world at it.”

Haugen said in the interview, “When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other, the version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.”

CBS reported she was recruited by Facebook and joined on the condition she could work against misinformation “because she had lost a friend to online conspiracy theories,” the report said.

She was assigned to “Civic Integrity,” but then, after last year’s election, Facebook canceled the program.

Haugen said the root of Facebook’s problem is in a change that it made in 2018 to its algorithms – the programming that decides what people see on their Facebook news feed.

She said Facebook picks those items by “optimizing for content that gets engagement, or reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions,” the report said.

She suggested evidence of the volatile results is that Facebook reportedly was used by those who vandalized the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Prosecutors, in fact, have cited that usage.

Haugen explained, “Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. People enjoy engaging with things that elicit an emotional reaction. And the more anger that they get exposed to, the more they interact and the more they consume.”

CBS noted her complaints with the SEC focus on the company’s internal documentation, in contrast to Zuckerberg’s public comments, who told Congress last March his company has a system to remove what could lead to real-world harm.

But one of Frances Haugen’s lawyers, John Tye, of “Whistleblower Aid,” said, “As a publicly traded company, Facebook is required to not lie to its investors or even withhold material information. So, the SEC regularly brings enforcement actions, alleging that companies like Facebook and others are making material misstatements and omissions that affect investors adversely.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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