Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen calls for urgent external regulation

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    Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen calls for urgent external regulation

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    Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen calls for urgent external regulation

    Ex-employee tells UK MPs Mark Zuckerberg ‘has unilateral control over 3bn people’ due to his position

    Frances Haugen in UK parliament
    02:00

    The whistleblower also urged Facebook to make it harder to share material, in order to slow the sharing of hate and disinformation, while also pushing more content from people’s family and friends into users’ newsfeeds: “Moving to systems that are human-scaled is the safest way to design social media. We liked social media before we had an algorithmic feed.”

    One of her particular concerns is how Facebook can “mislead” the public into thinking that it is prioritising the tackling of disinformation outside the English-speaking world, while highlighting its impact on societal divisions in Myanmar and Ethiopia. She suggested that tools designed to reduce harm in English-language posts may be less effective in the UK because they were developed using American English.

    Facebook’s ownership is structured so that Zuckerberg, as founder of the company, has a special class of share that means he alone ultimately controls the business. This gives him enormous control over the eponymous social network as well as Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp.

    Haugen said the company was full of “good, kind, conscientious people”, but they were working with bad incentives set by management and the requirement to maximise financial returns to shareholders. “Facebook has been unwilling to accept even little slivers of profit being sacrificed for safety. And that’s not acceptable.”

    She said there were few incentives inside the company to raise flaws and deal with the side-effects of its business model. “Facebook never set out to prioritise polarising and decisive content; it just happened to be a side-effect of the choices they did make.”

    Speaking in an earnings call with investors on Monday, Zuckerberg spoke to the document leak but did not address the contents directly, saying the issues the company is facing “aren’t primarily about social media” but relating to “polarization [that] started rising in the US before I was born”.

    “My view on what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to create a false picture about our company,” he added, as the company reported a quarterly profit of $9bn.

    A Facebook spokesperson said: “At the heart of these stories is a premise which is false. Yes, we’re a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie. The truth is we’ve invested $13bn and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook.”

    Kari Paul contributed reporting

    Topics

    • Facebook
    • House of Commons
    • Mark Zuckerberg
    • Social networking
    • Internet safety
    • Online abuse
    • Children
    • news
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    Published at Mon, 25 Oct 2021 17:44:17 +0000

    Attribution – For more Information here is the Article Post Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/oct/25/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-calls-for-urgent-external-regulation

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