Haugen: Facebook deliberately withheld important data from the public

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen urges politicians to gain a better understanding of how online networks work. “We need enough data for the public to understand these systems,” said Haugen of the German press agency. To this end, companies would have to be obliged to provide information on a regular basis – “roughly weekly, daily”.

“Facebook deliberately withheld important data from the public” – in order to prevent mechanisms for understanding the online network, Haugen criticized. “Because today the only people who can research Facebook are working at Facebook, we never got the chance to build such an infrastructure.”

The former Facebook employee Haugen had downloaded a large collection of internal documents and made them available to the US Congress, authorities and selected media. According to her, the information shows that the group puts profits above the well-being of its users. Internal references to developments harmful to users have been ignored. Facebook rejects the allegations.

“The problem with Facebook is not bad people or bad ideas,” said Haugen. Rather, it is the reinforcement role of today’s systems that “distribute the most extreme content to most people”. That could be turned off. “I think there are simple policies that can change the incentives in these companies.” This includes semi-annual risk analyzes that online companies would have to prepare for their service – and for which regulatory authorities should obtain independent assessments.

Haugen went to court with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. She was shocked by the recent announcement that the name of the Facebook group would be changed to Meta with a focus on the new virtual world “Metaverse”. She sees it as an attempt to draw attention from the debate on ethnic violence caused by Facebook to video games. During her time on Facebook, the resources made available for this purpose could have been used to protect users.

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“The fact that Facebook is spending 10,000 developers on video games but not on security systems shows, in my opinion, a blatant weakness in leadership.”


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