Facebook whistleblower says transparency needed to fix social media ills

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December 3 (Businesshala) – An in-depth investigation into Facebook’s lack of controls to curb misinformation and abuse in languages ​​other than English is likely to leave people “even more shocked” about the social media firm’s potential pitfalls , whistleblower Frances Haugen told Businesshala.

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Haugen, former product manager for Meta Platforms Inc. (FB.O) Facebook, spoke at the Businesshala Next conference on Friday.

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He left the company in May along with thousands of internal documents, which he leaked to the Wall Street Journal. It expanded a series of articles in September detailing how the company was aware that its apps helped spread divisive content and harmed the mental health of some young users.

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Facebook also knew that in many developing countries there are too few employees with the language skills needed to identify offensive posts from users, according to internal documents and Businesshala interviews with former employees.

Haugen said that people who use the platform in languages ​​other than English are using a “raw, dangerous version of Facebook.”

Facebook has consistently said it disagrees with Haugen’s internal research characterization and is proud of the work it has done to prevent abuse on the platform.

Haugen said the company should be required to disclose which languages ​​are supported by its technical security systems, otherwise “Facebook will … the bare minimum to mitigate PR risk,” she said.

Internal Facebook documents made public by Haugen have also raised fresh concerns about how it may fail to take action to stop the spread of misleading information.

Haugen said the social media company was aware it could introduce “strategic friction” to slow users down before re-sharing posts, such as on a link before users were able to share content. click is required. But he said that the company refrains from taking such action to maintain profit.

Such measures could be helpful in prompting users to reconsider sharing certain content, according to internet and legal experts who spoke during a separate panel at the Businesshala Next conference on Friday. Which allow technology platforms or governments to determine which information is correct.

“In regulating speech, you are delegating the power to the states to manipulate speech for their own purposes,” said David Green, civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The documents made public by Haugen have led to a series of hearings in the US Congress. Adam Mosseri, head of the Instagram app for Meta Platforms, will testify next week about the app’s impact on youth.

Asked what she would say to Mosseri if given the opportunity, Haugen said she would question why the company did not release further internal research.

“We have evidence now that Facebook has known for years that it is harming children,” she said. “How should we trust you as we move forward?”

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Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas Editing by Matthew Lewis


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