Things have not been all rosy for Facebook of late. After a massive outage causing the company to lose out on a lot of money, the social media company is now under scrutiny over allegations made by its former employee. Francis Haugen, who is a former employee turned whistleblower, has testified before the Senate committee about her experience in Facebook, and she also called on Congress to take strict action against the social media company for allegedly creating a toxic environment for teens on Instagram. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had responded to her claims saying that they don’t make sense at all.
Haugen worked at Facebook as a product manager. She decided to be a whistleblower after she left her job at Facebook. Haugen alleged that Facebook knew about the harmful effects on teens on Instagram yet did not take any steps to curb it. “I am here today because I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy. The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won’t solve this crisis without your help,” she said.
Haugen has shared tons of internal documents with The Wall Street Journal that carries proof that Facebook was aware of the issues with its apps. She has alleged that Facebook was not oblivious to the fact that Instagram was harming young girls negatively yet did not take any actions against it. She also attacked Facebook’s business model and news feed algorithm. Haugen accused Facebook of spreading misinformation through its platform and also said that Facebook forcefully sells ads to users. It forces users to engage with content despite knowing that the content is harmful.
Reacting to Haugen’s accusations about selling harmful ads, Zuckerberg said in a blog post, “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don’t know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.”
Zuckerberg said in his Facebook post that tech companies should build safer environments, experiences for young users instead of ignoring that young people use technology. “If we’re going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it’s important to start with a full picture. We’re committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available,” he said.