Brussels (Brussels Morning) A former employee of the US tech giant Facebook warned on Sunday that the company is “tearing our societies apart” and that it knows about it.
Frances Haugen, formerly employed at Facebook’s civic integrity unit, stressed that the company’s internal research and documents show that it is aware of the negative societal effects its platforms are causing, according to a DW report.
Haugen pointed out that Facebook’s findings show the harm that its Instagram photo and video sharing social network is causing to teenage girls when it comes to body image perception.
In addition, Facebook is aware of the two-tier system on Instagram, where celebrities are allowed to violate the rules and the general public is not.
“I’ve seen a bunch of social networks and it was substantially worse at Facebook than what I had seen before”, Haugen warned in an interview with the CBS ”60 Minutes” programme.
“The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world”, she observed.
Haugen, a data scientist, worked at Facebook from June 2019 to May this year, having also worked at Google, Yelp and Pinterest.
Haugen warned EP
She previously warned MEPs as well as UK and French officials about the issue and is to speak before the UK parliament later this month.
On CBS, Haugen related how Facebook misleads investors about the effectiveness of its measures to minimise its platforms’ negative societal effects in its submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
She warned that the company, contrary to its claims, optimises its algorithms to maximise profit, rather than minimise harm. In her opinion, “no one at Facebook is malevolent, but the incentives are misaligned.”
Earlier this month, US Senator Richard Blumenthal accused Facebook of “using big tobacco’s playbook”, by “hiding its own research on addiction and the toxic effects of its products.”
Blumenthal warned that Facebook “attempted to deceive the public and Congress about what it knows while weaponising childhood vulnerabilities against kids.”
Last Tuesday, Haugen asserted to the US Senate that Instagram has negative effects on the mental health of teenage girls, Reuters reports.
“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook”, she claimed. “Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests like making more money.”
Haugen’s conclusion was that Facebook lies to the public about the effectiveness of its measures and policies to curb the spread of misinformation and hate on its platform.