Mark Zuckerberg denies whistleblower Frances Haugen‘s accusation that Facebook values profit over user safety. The Facebook executive responded to her in a post from his own Facebook account.
Haugen stepped out last weekend in interviews with US channel CBS and The Wall Street Journal newspaper. She worked as a data scientist on the team that has to counter act disinformation on Facebook. In the interviews, she said that Facebook chose solutions that benefited the company’s profits over and over again.
For example, emergency measures to combat disinformation were expelled after the US election. According to Haugen, that contributed to Trump‘s supporters stormed the Capitol two months later. Haugen also said that Facebook is known from its own research that Instagram is harmful to teenage girls and, for example, can strengthen suicidal thoughts.
Haugen repeated her allegations at a US Senate hearing last night: “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but does not change the necessary because they prefer astronomical gains over people.”
Facebook responded to that with a statement saying that the company disagrees “with the characterization of many cases she has testified about”. However, the company says it advocates regulation, something Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress also urge: “The rules of the internet were last renewed 25 years ago. It‘s time for Congress to intervene, instead of expecting the industry to make social decisions legislators should make.”
See a section of Haugen’s interview with CBS here: “Instagram is harmful to young women”
In his personal post, Zuckerberg takes a closer look at Haugen‘s claims, which he says “make no sense”. He points out that Facebook is investing a lot of money in combating harmful content: “If we didn’t care about that, why do we employ so many more people who are competing against this than any other company in our sector?”
Zuckerberg also says that, given Facebook‘s revenue model, it doesn’t make sense at all to show polarizing content in users‘ timelines: “We make money on ads and advertisers continuously tell us that they don’t have their ads in addition to harmful or angry want content.”
In addition, social media such as Instagram also has beneficial effects on teenage girls, among others, Zuckerberg says: “Our research showed that many teenagers are helped by using Instagram when they struggle with the issues that teens are always plagued by.”
The Facebook chief executive also came back briefly on Monday‘s outage of Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram which he called “the worst glitch in years.” “This also reminded us how important our work is to people.”
Whistleblower Haugen, on the other hand, cheered the malfunction, she said at the hearing: “I don’t know why there was a breakdown, but I do know that Facebook was not used for more than five hours to deepen gaps in society, destabilize democracies and young girls. and make women feel bad about their bodies.”