A A few months ago, most people in the world had never heard of Frances Haugen. But when she became a Facebook whistleblower this fall, the former Facebook product manager quickly won the ears of powerful lawmakers around the world with her wealth of leaked documents detailing the social network’s operations.
Haugen’s notoriety started in October, after she posted thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents that shed light on how Facebook has handled – or some claim it has mishandled – a number of serious issues ranging from from moderation of hate speech and disinformation to marketing to children to exploitation of political advertising. and other content. Since the release of the documents, known as Facebook Papers, she has testified publicly before Congress, the British Parliament and the European Union. As recently as last week, she made a second appearance on Capitol Hill to meet with the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the United States Energy and Commerce Commission.
Haugen is not the typical person to be successful ForbesMost Powerful Women List, an annual ranking made up primarily of CEOs, politicians, celebrities, and the world’s richest people. However, she quickly gained massive influence, both from the content of the Facebook Papers and her ability to articulate complex tech issues to lawmakers while providing insight and guidance on how to deal with Big Tech. It is for this reason that she ranks number 100, a position attributed to voting rights activist Stacey Abrams in 2020 and climate change activist Greta Thunberg in 2019.
âI believe in truth and reconciliation, we have to face reality. The first step is documentation.
Facebook, which was recently rebranded as Meta amid a flurry of headlines over Haugen’s documents, has been at the center of issues raised by internal employees, whistleblowers, consumer advocates and other experts. In addition to being accused for years of violate data privacy laws, the company was also accused of authorizing hate speech and violent content, of having served as an organizing tool for the January 6 uprising and of carrying out anti-competitive practices. (Reports from Forbes About Facebook Papers detailed concerns about advertising, mental health issues, and how female politicians have been the target of harassment on the platform.)
âI saw a bunch of social media and it was significantly worse on Facebook than I had seen before,â Haugen said. 60 minutes in October during her first big TV interview. “Facebook, time and time again, has shown it prefers profit over security.”
Some of the most powerful people in American and European politics have praised Haugen for his efforts. In October, US Senator Richard Blumenthal called Haugen’s revelations a “bomb”. Last month, VÄra JourovÃ¡, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values ââand Transparency, said that “we regulators would not be able to convince people that regulation is necessary” without the launchers. alert like Haugen.
Before joining the social network, Haugen worked in several other large companies in Silicon Valley. She was a product manager at Pinterest, Yelp, and Google, and was also the chief technology officer and co-founder of the dating app Hinge. In June 2019, she joined Facebook as a product manager, working on civic disinformation and counterintelligence.
Although she compared her former employer to the tobacco industry, Haugen says she doesn’t want to destroy Meta or any of its affiliates like Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Instead, she said she preferred to help address it through increased transparency, new regulations and changes to existing laws such as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which currently protects technology companies from certain legal responsibilities.
âIf people hate Facebook more because of what I did, then I failed,â Haugen said. The Wall Street Journal, who first reported on the documents in a series of stories. âI believe in truth and reconciliation, we have to face reality. The first step is documentation.
Haugen quickly gained tremendous influence through the content of the Facebook Papers and his ability to articulate complex technological issues to lawmakers.
So far this year, at least two other former Facebook employees have shared information with authorities. In October, Sophie Zhang, who released a memo in 2020, testified before the UK Parliament about her work as a data scientist on a Facebook team dealing with government-backed robot accounts. Another whistleblower, still anonymous, also allegedly gave information to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
The long-term extent of Haugen’s influence will depend, in part, on whether world leaders choose to adopt regulations based on his information. (Haugen has also spoken publicly of want to create a non-profit organization it would help support social media reform.) But one thing is for sure: Haugen saw that she had powerful information at her fingertips and wasn’t just staying silent – and she seems determined to keep fighting for it. the responsibility.
“I cannot stress enough that none of this will matter if there are still no transparency or accountability safeguards,” she said, from remarks prepared, to legislators on December 1. âNo effort to solve these problems will ever be effective if Facebook is not required to share data to support its claims or be subject to oversight of its business decisions.