October 5, 2021
"We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech and misinformation on Facebook and the family of apps are affecting societies around the world..."
Facebook whistleblower unmasked: Frances Haugen reveals she filed at least eight SEC complaints alleging the social media put its own interests ahead public good and played a role in Capitol riots
A former Facebook employee has unmasked herself as the source behind damaging leaks about the social media giant - and claimed it deliberately sought to stoke discontent to keep users coming back to their newsfeeds.
Frances Haugen, 37, came forward on America's top-rated news show 60 Minutes Sunday night, with the data scientist also accusing her former employer of contributing to the January 6 riots. Haugen, who anonymously filed eight complaints about her former employer said: 'Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety.'
Haugen, who is due to testify in Congress Tuesday about Facebook's alleged impact on its younger users, also claimed that decision directly-contributed to the violence at the US Capitol.
'As soon as the election was over they turned them back off, or they changed the settings back to what they were before to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me,' Haugen stated.
Haugen, whose leaks formed The Wall Street Journal's 'Facebook Files' series, also said that Facebook's algorithms - mathematical formulae that help decide which information is most visible on users' feeds - favored hateful content.
She claimed that a 2018 change prioritizing divisive posts which made Facebook users argue was found to boost user engagement.
That in turn helped bosses sell more online adverts that have seen the social media giant's value creep close to $1 billion.
Haugen said: 'You are forcing us to take positions that we don't like, that we know are bad for society. We know if we don't take those positions, we won't win in the marketplace of social media,' she said.
The executive, who worked at Google and Pinterest before joining Facebook in 2019, said the scales fell from her eyes after the firm dissolved a unit on civic integrity she'd been working in after the 2020 election.
She explained: 'I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.'
'The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,' Haugen added.
'There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.'
After realizing she could no longer trust her company to protect the public, Haugen secretly copied tens of thousands of Facebook internal research which she claims is evidence that 'the company is lying to the public about making significant progress against hate, violence and misinformation.'
'We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech and misinformation on Facebook and the family of apps are affecting societies around the world,' the complaint reads.
Haugen claimed that Facebook's 'evidence of harm' extended to its Instagram app, commenting on a study that showed teen girls said the social network site worsened thoughts of suicide and eating disorders.
'What's super tragic is Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this — this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed. And it actually makes them use the app more,' Haugen explained.