Key takeaways from the UK Parliament hearing of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen claimed the social media giant put profit ahead of user safety by responding to questions from the British Parliament’s Joint Committee on Monday after releasing a cache of internal documents.
Despite its allegations and the bad press, Facebook posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Monday.
Facebook made $ 9 billion (€ 7.7 billion) in profits in the three months to September, up from $ 7.8 billion last year.
Haugen provided evidence for the Online Safety Bill which aims to impose stricter regulations on social media platforms.
It’s Haugen’s second appearance before lawmakers after testifying in the U.S. Congress on Oct. 5, citing internal research documents she secretly copied before quitting her job in Facebook’s civic integrity unit.
What did Frances Haugen say?
During her testimony, Haugen spoke of the “burden of disinformation,” the impact of Instagram on adolescent mental health, the desperate need for greater transparency, and how algorithmic feeds are fueling the hatred and violence.
“Slowdown of the platform, agnostic strategies, solutions on a human scale. This is the direction in which we need to go, ”Haugen said, giving the example of chronological contention servers, where people can disperse to different rooms if there are too many people.
Haugen alleged that Facebook’s inaction on this was due to the platform putting profit over safety, not wanting to sacrifice growth.
“Facebook’s strategy is to only slow down the platform after a crisis has started, rather than when the temperature rises and makes the platform safer as it goes,” Haugen said.
Haugen has also talked a lot about the harmfulness of engagement-based ranking and AI-driven systems.
“Facebook never sought to prioritize polarizing content, it just became a side effect of the priorities it took,” she said.
Responding to questions on the online security bill, Haugen stressed the need for greater transparency of social media platforms.
“How will we know when the next danger looms?” Thinking of any tech company with a big societal impact, we need to think about how we extract data from that company; Think systematically for big tech companies about how we get the information we need to make decisions, ”said Haugen.
What are Facebook papers?
The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration between 17 American news organizations. Journalists from various newsrooms, large and small, worked together to access thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower.
A separate consortium of European media was given access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began posting content related to their analysis of the documents at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, October 25.
This date and time has been set by partner news outlets to give all members of the consortium the opportunity to fully analyze documents, point out relevant details, and give Facebook PR staff sufficient time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by this report.
Each member of the consortium has pursued its own independent report on the content of the document and its significance. Each member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain background and background on the documents.
The documents themselves are redacted versions of disclosures Haugen made for several months to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that Facebook was prioritizing profits over safety and hiding its own research from investors and the public.
These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms could harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence.