Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is set to appear before Congress on Tuesday, where she will sharply criticize her former employer as “one of the most pressing threats” facing the country, and demand transparency about its activities.
Haugen, a former product manager with Facebook’s disinformation team, says the social media giant keeps its algorithms and operations secret.
“The crux of the problem is that no one can understand Facebook’s destructive choices better than Facebook, because only Facebook can look under the hood,” she said in a written testimony prepared for the hearing.
“A critical premise for effective regulation is transparency,” she said in testimony delivered to a Senate Subcommittee on Commerce. “On this foundation, we can build sensible rules and standards to address consumer harm, illegal content, data protection, anti-competitive practices, algorithmic systems and more.”
In an era when bipartisanship is rare on Capitol Hill, the top Democrat and Republican on the subcommittee agreed on the need for major changes at Facebook.
Subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal noted that Facebook’s leadership had rejected recommendations to make its sites, including Instagram, more secure. “There are many teenagers who now look in the mirror and feel bad about their self-image and their bodies. Mark Zuckerberg should look in the mirror,” he said in a television interview on Tuesday.
The top Republican, Marsha Blackburn, is expected to say in the opening remarks that Facebook is turning a blind eye to children under 13 on its sites. “It’s clear that Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of our children.”
Haugen came forward this week to reveal ttps://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-whistleblower-reveals-identity-ahead-senate-hearing-2021-10-03 she was the one who provided documents used in a Wall Street Magazine investigation and a Senate hearing on Instagram’s harm to teenage girls.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
The Journal’s stories showed that the company contributed to the increased polarization online when it made changes to its content algorithm; failed to take steps to reduce vaccine hesitancy; and was aware that Instagram was harming the mental health of teenage girls.
Haugen said Facebook had also done too little to prevent its platform from being used by those planning violence.
Facebook was used by people planning mass killings in Myanmar and the January 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who were determined to throw away the 2020 election results.