A former employee of Facebook, Frances Haugen, speaks during the hearing.
For around 4-6 hours on Monday, billions of users could not access their Instagram, WhatsApp accounts, and its parent app, Facebook. In response, the company replied that the reason for this global outage was an internal technical issue. This worldwide outage happened at the same time when the company was dealing with the aftermath of series of reports by The Wall Street Journal based on internal documents. These are the documents that a whistleblower from Facebook has provided to them.
In an episode of 60 minutes, the whistleblower came in front of the audience on Sunday. Her name is Frances Haugen. Frances Haugen is a former employee of Facebook who quit her job in May. She claims that her leaving her position was that Facebook was aware of spreading hatred among people. But it didn’t take action over it.
But the problem began for Facebook when Frances Haugen accused Facebook of weakening democracy and harming children in front of the Senate.
In recent years, Facebook has been underscan for the prevention of hate speech online and protecting its user base. And out of the blue, the revelations of Frances Haugen about Facebook makes a sense a lot.
Also read: Facebook is still partially offline
Who is Frances Haugen?
Haugen was the product manager in the company’s civic integrity team on Facebook for two years. She mainly used to monitor the spreading of misinformation on the platform. She also takes care of the fact that this platform is not being used to destabilize democracy.
Before being part of Facebook, she was settled as a product manager in huge tech firms. A 37-year-old successful engineer has worked for the companies like Google, Yelp and Pinterest.
She’s also the co-founder of the dating platform Secret Agent Cupid, aka a dating app known as ‘Hinge’. She co-founded this app while in 2010 while studying management programme at Harvard Business School.
Back in 2014, she’d experienced a family that became obsessed with the online forums of white nationalist conspiracy theories. And from there, her interest in fighting misinformation has awakened up.
And due to inclination in this, when Facebook recruiters offered her a job, Frances Haugen insisted on being part of the misinformation spread area. She also became the part of company’s civic integrity team in 2019. However, after the US presidential elections in 2020, this team dispersed.
What did Frances Haugen do?
According to Frances Haugen interview of 60 minutes, she started losing faith in Facebook when her team got disbanded. The work which previously team has completed were later on divided among several different departments. However, the company was not stretching much effort to prevent misinformation.
Frances Haugen also filed a complaint against Facebook in September. She accused Facebook that it is not disclosing the shortcomings from the investors and the public. She also leaked several internal documents of Facebook to the Wall Street Journal. And these are the documents which later on published as a series of reports.
Just after the ’60 Minutes’ episode, the spokesperson of Facebook, Lena Pietsch, delivered a speech that completely denies allegations. She also said that the company is very well aware of these loopholes and constantly making efforts to fix them.
“Every day, our teams have to balance protecting the ability of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”” Pietsch told CNN.
In the entire statement of 700 words, Pietsch described several facts.
And she also said that they would try their best to improve the loopholes of their products.