The whistleblower behind a massive leak of internal documents on Facebook says the social media giant has always prioritized its own profit over the public good.
Frances Haugen, a data scientist and former product manager for Facebook’s civil misinformation team, revealed herself in a 60 minutes Interviewed on Sunday as the woman who anonymously leaked documents from the company’s research wall street journal and the US Congress.
Ms Hogen said the leaks showed how Facebook fuels hate and misinformation by prioritizing profits.
“What I saw over and over on Facebook was a conflict of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Ms. Hogen told host Scott Pele.
“And Facebook has repeatedly chosen to optimize for its interests, such as making more money,” she said.
Ms Haugen said that while she had worked at several companies, including Google and Pinterest, “it was bad enough at Facebook” because of the social media giant’s desire to put its profits on the welfare of its users.
According to the data scientist and whistleblower, Facebook’s main problem was the company changed its algorithm in 2018 to determine what users see on the platform’s News Feed.
“If you sit down and scroll for five minutes, you can only see 100 pieces,” Ms. Hogen said, adding that Facebook’s algorithms pick these pieces from thousands of options that can be shown to users.
She said algorithms are optimized for content that elicits engagement — or responses — from users.
“But it has its own research showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it is easier to drive people to anger than other emotions,” Ms. Hogen said.
If the company changed its algorithms to be on the safe side, however, people would spend less time on the platform, click on fewer ads and make less money from it, she said.
“Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. People like to engage with things that evoke an emotional response. And the more anger they expose, the more they interact and the more they consume,” the data scientist said.
“Facebook has shown time and again that it chooses profit over security. It is subsidizing, it is paying for its profits with our security,” said Ms. Haugen, adding that the company chose these during the 2020 US elections. understood the dangers.
The company temporarily turned on security systems during the election period to reduce misinformation, but “they turned them back on as soon as the election ended or they changed the settings to prioritize development over security.” Changed as before,” he alleged. .
The social media giant said some security systems remained in place, but after the election, some used Facebook to organize the January 6 US Capitol riots.
Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, sent an internal memo on Friday responding to criticism against the company and also appeared CNN To make a number of similar arguments on Sunday.
“We understand that the piece is likely to emphasize that we contribute to polarization in the United States, and to suggest that the extraordinary steps we took for the 2020 election were too soon eased and the Capital contributed to the magnitude of the events of January 6,” the memo reportedly said.
“But the evidence that exists does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media in general, is the primary cause of polarization,” it added.
“I think January 6th can be explained because of social media, I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr Clegg told CNN.
Granthshala has reached out to Facebook for comment.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /