Whistleblower Says Facebook Fuels Online Hate

The Facebook whistleblower has exposed Facebook for putting profits over their user’s safety.

Credit: NBC News

Frances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, has released thousands of internal documents from the company. One of many whistleblowers, the information she has released alleges that Facebook does not care for the wellbeing of its users. This includes, but is not limited to, prioritising high-profile users, the company’s approach to content moderation, and how Instagram has affected the mental health of its younger users.

These internal documents showed that research was done by Facebook itself into the effect of Instagram on its younger users. It showed that using Instagram often makes things worse for young people who suffer from existing mental health problems, such as anxiety or body image issues. Despite this, Haugen described how the company still did nothing with the findings, saying that they continued to prioritise their own growth at the expense of the public.

“Making Hate Worse”

To be able to gather the information Haugen, who initially resigned in April 2021, had stayed at the company for another month to be able to gather all the necessary documents. She required strong evidence that showed how Facebook was failing to hold itself accountable, she told the Wall Street Journal.

Before her hearing with Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Haugen was supported and praised by the politician, for being able to come forward and expose the large company.

“From her first visit with my office, I have admired her backbone and bravery in revealing terrible truths about one of the world’s most powerful, implacable corporate giants. We now know about Facebook’s destructive harms to kids — harms that Facebook concealed and knowingly exploited to increase profits — because of documents Frances revealed.”

In her interview with 60 minutes, Haugen also revealed how the company did little to act on reports from users. It was revealed that the site would only act on 3-5% of the hate crime that was reported, and less than 1% of the reported violence and illicit harm.

The BBC reports that Haugen told British MPs that Facebook is “unquestionably making hate worse.”

“Facebook and Instagram down!”

With this information being revealed, there are many speculating that the Facebook and Instagram shutdown was used to cover the news of this whistleblower. Online users across multiple platforms have noted how the whistleblower had come out with this information only hours before. But this news was not given the adequate attention or coverage it deserved, in favour of everyone panicking over the site’s shutdown.

Time will tell if these events were truly related, and how Facebook will handle this latest blow.

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