Whistleblower Revelations Demand Response to Make Facebook Accountable
WASHINGTON — On Sunday, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired an interview with Frances Haugen, who came forward as the whistleblower who shared internal Facebook documents with federal regulators showing the company lied repeatedly to the public and investors about its ability to combat hate, violence and misinformation on its platforms. In the 60 Minutes interview, Haugen explained why she released the documents. Her main concerns include Facebook executives’ repeated choice of “profits over safety” in ways that cause violence around the world.
Among the key findings of The Wall Street Journal's series “The Facebook Files” was evidence that: Facebook exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules; Instagram is harmful to millions of young users; Facebook’s 2018 algorithm change promotes objectionable or harmful content; Facebook’s tools were used to sow doubt about COVID-19 vaccines; and globally, Facebook is used to incite violence against ethnic minorities and facilitate action against political dissent.
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González, the co-founder of “Ya Basta Facebook” and the Change the Terms coalition, made the following statement:
“Facebook runs on a hate-and-lie-for-profit business model that amplifies all sorts of toxicity on its platforms. Thanks to this brave whistleblower, we now have further proof that Facebook’s executives — all the way up to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg — routinely choose profits over public safety. They designed the company’s algorithms to put engagement, growth and profits above all else, even allowing lies about the 2020 election results to spread to millions in advance of the white-nationalist assault on the U.S. Capitol.
“The Facebook whistleblower turned evidence of this gross negligence over to the government at great personal risk, and now we need the government to respond with decisive action to hold the company responsible for protecting public safety. The government must demand full transparency on how Facebook collects, processes and shares our data, and enact civil-rights and privacy policies to protect the public from Facebook’s toxic business model.
“Facebook must also act swiftly to remedy the harms it is continuing to inflict on the public at large. It must end special protections for powerful politicians, ban white supremacists and dangerous conspiracy theorists, and institute wholesale changes to strengthen content moderation in English and other languages — and we need this all now.”
Free Press activists are urging Congress to adopt a series of measures to hold Facebook to account.
Facebook has not responded to Free Press or Common Cause about its refusal to suspend Team Trump, a PAC established and controlled by Donald Trump, after the ex-president was suspended from Facebook’s platforms. In July, more than 20 organizations urged Facebook to close a loophole that allows dishonest and dangerous ads by groups controlled by banned public figures.
Facebook has also refused to answer members of Congress, Free Press and other members of the “Ya Basta Facebook” coalition about how many staff and contractors the company employs to reduce Spanish-language disinformation on its platforms. It has also failed to release details on training or support for content moderators for non-English posts. Learn more here.
For years, Free Press, as a leader of the Change the Terms coalition, has pressured Facebook executives to strengthen their policy and enforcement mechanisms to curb hateful activity across the board on their platforms. Learn more here.