Former Facebook employee said the company puts its profits before people’s safety

Facebook puts its benefits before the safety of its users and hides that its platforms are harmful to minors, foment social division and weaken democracy, warned a former employee before a subcommittee of the United States Senate on Tuesday.Frances Haugen, a former worker of the firm, testified before the subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Security and Data of the Upper House after the leaks that she herself made in the last days to The Wall Street Journal and after revealing his identity in an interview broadcast on Sunday with the program “60 Minutes”, of the CBS channel. The 37-year-old whistleblower began working at Facebook as a product manager in 2019, but decided to leave the company in the face of the misinformation she saw after the US elections last November, which led to the assault on the Capitol in January by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.In her testimony, Haugen made a ruthless portrait of the company, because during the time he was working on it he realized a “devastating truth”: Facebook hides information from the public and governments.” The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence and its role in spreading divisive and extremist messages,” she said. Facebook fosters division and weakens democracyExplicóted that he decided to testify before Congress because he believes that The products of Facebook (which apart from its own platform owns WhatsApp and Instagram) harm minors, foment division and weaken democracy. The company’s leaders know how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but they won’t make the necessary changes because they put their astronomical benefits before people.” Haugen, who has also been employed since 2006 at companies such as Google, Pinterest and Yelp, clarified that her task at Facebook focused on algorithms and recommendations made to the user. Facebook knows that content that provokes an extreme reaction is more likely to get a ‘click’, a comment or someone to share it, “said the informant, who stressed that these actions do not have to be for the benefit of the user. This strategy, she warned, makes children more exposed to content that promotes anorexia and can fuel ethnic violence in places like Ethiopia.” In some cases this dangerous online conversation has led to real violence that harms, and even kills people. This isn’t just about some social media users who are angry or unstable or about one part more radical than another. It’s about Facebook, which chooses to grow at any cost.” In fact, Haugen is “very concerned” about national security in light of how Facebook works today, since, she warned, it does not provide enough personnel to its units dedicated to preventing messages that instigate terrorism or espionage. This testimony comes after on Monday the services of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp fell worldwide for more than six hours without the reason being known yet. The audience was dedicated, above all, to the effect of Facebook on minors. Specifically, the informant indicated that the company has its own studies that indicate that the use of its platforms is harmful to minors, since they can be addictive and encourage habits that can lead to anorexia. Instagram works like tobacco in minors In that sense, he said that the company acts like tobacco manufacturers, that is, it promotes habits among minors through Instagram so that they get hooked, as it happens with cigarettes. And he denounced that Instagram has changed the lives of children and adolescents who suffer harassment at school, given that “bullying follows them home, follows them to their bedrooms.” In his opinion, within the company “disastrous” decisions are made for minors, public safety and the privacy of individuals. “That’s why we should demand that Facebook make changes,” he said. From Facebook, the only reaction to Haugen’s testimony was the tweets of one of her spokespersons, Andy Stone, who pointed out that the former employee “did not work in child safety on Instagram or investigate these issues, nor did she have direct knowledge of the matter from her work on Facebook.” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was heavily criticized throughout the audience not only for his role in the takeover. of decisions of the firm, but for having gone to sail. On Sunday, ahead of The broadcast of Haugen’s “60 Minutes” interview, Zuckerberg posted a video on Instagram and Facebook with his wife, Priscilla Chan, and friends aboard a pleasure boat. The video did not please lawmakers on the subcommittee on Tuesday, whose chairman, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, commented that “Mark Zuckerberg should look in the mirror today and yet, instead of taking responsibility and showing leadership, Mr. Zuckerberg has gone sailing.”

Original source in Spanish

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