One woman shut down social media.
Frances Haugen, known as the Facebook Whistleblower, was a former data scientist at Facebook who is now exposing Facebook’s secrets.
After resigning from Facebook in April, Haugen wanted to make a change in Facebook after seeing the negative impacts of the company’s regulations on teenagers.
First, she did a special on 60 Minutes with interviewer Scott Pelley before she testified against Facebook before Congress.
In the 60 Minutes interview, Haugen explains that “there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook.”
Haugen worked for Google and Pinterest in the past but said Facebook is the worst social media site by far.
Before revealing her identity on 60 Minutes, she secretly copied and exposed Facebook’s internal research.
Haugen said, “Evidence shows that the company is lying to the public about making significant process against hate, violence, and misinformation.”
She also declares people feel anger more than any other emotion when scrolling through Facebookdue to the polarizing and hateful content.
Haugen said, “Facebook realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money.”
Furthermore, Haugen declares that Instagram is addicting and dangerous to teenagers. The more they use the app, the more they are being exposed to hateful content, which causes them to feel worse about their self-image.
According to Scott Pelley, “One study says 13.5% of teen girls say Instagram makes thought of suicide worse; 17% of teen girls say Instagram makes eating disorders worse.”
After the bombshell 60 Minutes interview, Haugen gave her testimony in Congress on Tuesday, Oct. 5, calling lawmakers to create regulations that would force Facebook to make improvements.
She describes that Facebook is designed to incite anger and depression inside of people to keep them on the platform. Haugen calls Facebook out for knowing they are harming people and are not doing anything about it.
According to Barbara Ortuatay and David Klepper from AP News: “Haugen said Facebook knows that vulnerable people are harmed by its systems, from kids who are susceptible to feel bad about their bodies because of Instagram, to adults who are more exposed to misinformation after being widowed, divorced or experiencing other forms of isolation such as moving to a new city.”
Moreover, Haugen offered a peek inside the company. She claims the layout of Facebook’s headquarters is inefficient. The employees are crammed on one large floor with few managers. The format of the workplace does not allow for a leader to discourage bad ideas.
During the hearing, Haugen’s credibility was questioned because of her limited amount of time at the company. It was revealed that Haugen did not work on child safety, Instagram or research issues while she worked at Facebook. She acknowledges that she did not work on the issues, but rather, she had her own experience while working for Facebook.
To improve Facebook, Haugen suggests that the company could organize posts in chronological order rather than having an algorithm that predicts what users want to see to create a less manipulating platform. She also suggests adding one more click before users can share content to others to limit the spread of misinformation.
Interestingly, the day before her hearing, social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, shut down for over six hours. Billions of users did not have access to social media.
According to Rachel Lerman from The Washington Post, “Facebook confirmed late Monday night that the issue was caused by configuration changes that interrupted network traffic between its data centers.”
Twitter seemed to enjoy their competition’s downfall.
On Oct. 4, Twitter tweeted, “Hello, literally everyone.”
Facebook lost millions of dollars because of the outage. After six hours, all social media sites went back online.
The loss of social media should have allowed people to reflect on the negative impacts of social media. Hopefully, Haugen’s testimony will convince lawmakers to enforce safety regulation, which will protect billions of people.