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Facebook Whistleblower Says Company ‘Paying For Its Profits With Our Safety’

Screenshot / Twitter / @60 Minutes

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Ailan Evans Tech Reporter
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Facebook knowingly chooses to prioritize its profits over the safety of its users, Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month which detail the inner workings of the company. The leaked documents showed that Facebook employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.

“Facebook has demonstrated they cannot act independently. Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety,” Haugen said. “It is subsidizing, it is paying for its profits with our safety.” (RELATED: Facebook Suspends ‘Instagram Kids’ Following Investigation Into Platform’s Effect On Teens)

Haugen pointed to Facebook activity leading up to the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol Building and the proliferation of “misinformation” on the platform as evidence that the company was not doing enough to keep people safe. She said Facebook dissolved its “Civic Integrity” team, established during the 2020 presidential election to remove and suppress content deemed harmful or misleading, a decision she viewed that decision as contributing to the events at the Capitol.

“I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous,” she said.

In September, Haugen filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Facebook misled its investors regarding the harms and practices of its platform. She is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, where she hopes to convince lawmakers to enact legislation reining in Facebook.

“I’m hoping that this will have had a big enough impact on the world that they get the fortitude and the motivation to actually go put those regulations into place,” she said.

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