The Facebook company is again at the center of debates. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal highlights insider information on the platform’s harmful effects and the company’s reluctance to act. A whistleblower, a former Facebook employee, testified before Congress about leaked documents, that the company was aware of the potential damage that Instagram was causing to teens.
Facebook, the social media giant that also owns Instagram and WatsApp, is still in the spotlight.
“I am here today because I believe that Facebook products harm children, promote divisions and weaken our democracy,” said French Haugen, a former Facebook employee.
She had worked for Facebook for two years as a project manager, but has since become known as the company’s whistleblower.
On Tuesday, Ms. Haugen testified at a Senate hearing about what she describes as a deliberate lack of action and transparency from the company and its applications, such as Instagram.
She said Facebook algorithms tend to promote lies before the truth, citing disinformation campaigns that have spread to the US and abroad.
“The company’s management knows how to make Facebook and Instagram secure, but it does not want to make the necessary changes because it puts profits ahead of people,” she said.
According to the Facebook study itself, 32 percent of teenage girls on Instagram say that when they felt bad about their bodies, the platform made them feel even worse.
“Facebook knows that algorithms, which enable the display of posts based on user activity, can quickly lead children from harmless topics, such as healthy eating recipes, to posts that promote anorexia,” said Ms. Haugen.
Facebook says Ms. Haugen had limited access to the company’s research and decision-making policies. The Facebook’s global security official spoke to senators last week.
“Were there times in your studies when a change in the Facebook platform could cause harm to users, but you implemented it anyway, as it adds users, or profits,” asked Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan.
“I do not have such an experience on Facebook. We care a lot about the safety of the people on our platform. We have invested $ 12 billion in it, we have thousands and thousands of people working on this issue. “This is not the way we work,” said Antigone Davis, Facebook’s director of global security.
“We have heard Facebook in testimony and hearings saying that they will do their best, they will act differently. But after they leave nothing happens. “I think this is the first time that things they’ve been informed about are being documented, things that could have been done but not done,” said Shireen Mitchell, a Facebook critic.
Some are comparing Facebook to the critical moments where the cigarette industry found itself…
“Facebook and technology are facing a critical moment similar to when we learned that the tobacco industry knew their products were causing cancer, but that they had hidden research files,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
It remains to be seen whether lawmakers and regulators will act to reduce the damage allegedly caused by Facebook. It is not yet known how the company will react, even if calls for change come from within.
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