Simply who’s Frances Haugen?
For weeks, the onetime Facebook product supervisor made waves whereas behind the scenes. After amassing hundreds of pages of Facebook paperwork whereas working on the firm, she had shared the trove with The Wall Avenue Journal, lawmakers and regulators, resulting in revelations that the social community knew about most of the harms it was inflicting.
Ms. Haugen solely revealed herself on Sunday night time. That was when she went on “60 Minutes,” began tweeting, revealed a private web site, began a GoFundMe and introduced a European tour to talk with lawmakers and regulators. The transfer was timed forward of a congressional listening to on Tuesday, when Ms. Haugen is ready to testify in particular person on Facebook’s influence on younger folks.
Particulars about Ms. Haugen, 37, have since spilled out. A local of Iowa Metropolis, Iowa, she studied electrical and laptop engineering at Olin Faculty and bought an M.B.A. from Harvard. She then labored at varied Silicon Valley corporations, together with Google, Pinterest and Yelp.
In June 2019, she joined Facebook. There, she dealt with democracy and misinformation points, in addition to engaged on counterespionage as a part of the civic misinformation group, based on her private web site.
She left Facebook in Could, however not earlier than exfiltrating hundreds of pages of inside analysis and paperwork. These paperwork have fashioned the premise of a collection of Journal articles and a whistle-blower criticism that she and her attorneys have filed with the Securities and Change Fee.
Regardless of her seemingly adversarial place, Ms. Haugen has mentioned she doesn’t hate Facebook and simply needs to enhance it.
“We are able to have social media that brings out one of the best in humanity,” she mentioned on her web site.
Whereas she shared a number of the firm paperwork with members of Congress and the workplaces of at the least 5 attorneys basic, Ms. Haugen determined to not present them to the Federal Commerce Fee, which has filed an antitrust swimsuit in opposition to Facebook. She has mentioned she doesn’t imagine that antitrust enforcement is the way in which to unravel the corporate’s issues.
“The trail ahead is about transparency and governance,” she mentioned in a video on her GoFundMe web page. “It’s not about breaking apart Facebook.”
In ready remarks for the listening to on Tuesday, which had been launched forward of time, Ms. Haugen additionally likened Facebook to tobacco corporations and automakers earlier than the federal government stepped in with laws for cigarettes and seatbelt legal guidelines.
“Congress can change the principles Facebook performs by and cease the hurt it’s inflicting,” she mentioned.
A Facebook whistle-blower is taking her marketing campaign to Washington.
Frances Haugen, a former product supervisor at Facebook who leaked inside paperwork to The Wall Avenue Journal which have generated quite a few revelations concerning the firm, will testify in a Senate listening to on Tuesday morning.
The listening to, which begins at 10 a.m., is a part of Ms. Haugen’s tour geared toward bringing extra authorities oversight to the social media big. She appeared on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night time and is anticipated to fulfill with European regulators this month. Ms. Haugen has warned that Facebook doesn’t have the motivation to alter its core purpose of accelerating engagement — even with dangerous content material — with out intervention from regulators.
Right here is what to anticipate on the listening to:
Ms. Haugen will deal with the corporate’s push to acquire youthful and youthful customers. Among the analysis she leaked to The Journal confirmed that Instagram harmed youngsters by feeding on anxiousness and, in some instances, suicidal ideations. The analysis revealed that one in three teenagers reported feeling worse about their physique picture due to Instagram.
“I’m right here immediately as a result of I imagine that Facebook’s merchandise hurt youngsters, stoke division, weaken our democracy and way more,” Ms. Haugen mentioned in written testimony. “The corporate’s management is aware of methods to make Facebook and Instagram safer and received’t make the mandatory modifications as a result of they’ve put their immense earnings earlier than folks. Congressional motion is required.”
Lawmakers will embrace Ms. Haugen’s testimony. Issues concerning the security of kids on-line have united Republicans and Democrats. They’ve grown more and more indignant at Facebook for failing to guard younger customers and for permitting misinformation to unfold.
Lawmakers will drill into what data Facebook’s executives had on Instagram’s poisonous impact on younger customers. They may most likely ask if Mark Zuckerberg and different leaders had been conscious of however ignored the analysis on Instagram’s impact on youngsters and different points just like the unfold of hate teams forward of the Capitol riots.
Lawmakers will most likely additionally ask Ms. Haugen how the corporate’s techniques work to advertise poisonous content material. They can even deal with how instruments like magnificence filters, feedback and Facebook’s “like” button can hook younger customers to Instagram.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut and the chair of the panel on client safety, product security and information safety will spotlight an experiment his workplace ran, wherein it created an account for a pretend 13-year-old person who expressed curiosity in weight reduction. The account was nudged right into a rabbit gap of content material selling consuming problems and different self-harms, he mentioned in an interview.
“I wish to speak about her perceptions about what she learn in these paperwork and using algorithms to extend earnings but additionally to exacerbate the harms,” Mr. Blumenthal mentioned.