Culture

Facebook whistleblower files complaints concerning safety against the company

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about the new Facebook News feature at the Paley Center For Media on October 25, 2019 in New York City. Facebook News, which will appear in a new dedicated section on the Facebook app, will offer stories from a mix of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, as well as other digital-only outlets.(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, has filed at least eight complaints against the media company. Haugen alleges that Facebook misled investors and politicians regarding the platform’s safety, and she will testify before Congress on Tuesday. These complaints are based on tens of thousands of internal documents Haugen copied before she quit Facebook in May. 

The Wallstreet Journal has published a series of stories called the Facebook Files, using the documents to uncover the totality of Facebook’s safety shortcomings. The first whistleblower complaint filed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission refers to Facebook’s inaction leading to the Capitol riots on January 6. The complaint alleges that Facebook knowingly permitted political misinformation in the build-up to the storming of the Capitol. The complaints assert that Facebook is acting contrary to statements they’ve given publicly and requires regulation. The opening statement of the first complaint indicates what the company is doing.

“Our anonymous client is disclosing original evidence showing that Facebook … has, for years past and ongoing, violated US securities laws by making material misrepresentations and omissions in statements to investors and prospective investors,including, inter alia, through filings with the SEC, testimony to Congress, online statements and media stories.”

Via, The Guardian

Haugen’s testimony comes directly following a chaotic day for Facebook. Monday saw Facebook platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, go offline for almost 6 hours. This outage coincided closely with 60 Minutes publishing details regarding the accusations on Monday. However, Facebook has come out with statements refuting the whistleblower and their claims

Other complaints against Facebook

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11:  Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Other than the political disinformation, Haugen’s documents highlight other concerns as well. Some of the other topics include

  • The company’s approach to hate speech.
  • Its approach to mental health.
  • Its monitoring of human trafficking.
  • How the company’s algorithms promoted hate speech.
  • Preferential disciplinary treatment for VIP users.
  • Promoting ethnic violence.
  • Failing to inform investors about smaller user bases in certain demographics. 

While Facebook maintains that its practices are sound, Congress and the media are investigating them with renewed vigor. Within the complaints are internal reports that state that action regarding hate speech and potential violence is below 5%. 

Haugen also brought about the issues of the platform regarding mental health. The Wall Street Journal and the complaint allege that Instagram was aware that the app caused anxiety among teenage girls regarding body image. 

Though the allegations are extensive, it seems we are just scratching the surface. We’ll continue to follow the results of Tuesday’s hearing. 

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