Analysis: Facebook revelations are shocking. But nothing will change until Congress acts

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Result of whistleblower’s claim: not only Facebook knows that its platform encourages angry, hateful, clearly false content, but it is Priority That content to keep readers engaged. According to Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who works on civil integrity issues, the company is choosing “profit over security.”

Now, Haugen is bringing her case to Washington, urging lawmakers not to shut down Facebook or force it to break up — but to get serious about regulating it. The reality is that in nearly two decades, Congress has shown that it is barely capable of directing Facebook to the bathroom.
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“The gravity of this crisis demands that we move out of the previous regulatory framework,” she said in her opening statement on Tuesday.

She says Facebook’s leadership is the only one who knows how to make its platform secure, but that they have “put their astronomical advantage before the people.” They won’t do the right thing unless they are forced to.

It’s hard to overstate the shocking value of Haugen’s testimony and the scope of the internal documents he leaked. wall street journal. It’s one thing when outside researchers say your company is hurting, but it’s quite another when your own Internal Reports say your products are actively harming teenagers and promoting a COVID-19 vaccine that can kill people.

Its revelations are significant because they are forcing the world to question how Facebook and other tech giants are being held accountable for their actions.

For its part, Facebook called many of the claims against the Journal’s reporting “misleading” and argued that its apps do more good than harm.

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why facebook got pass

Facebook will not change with public pressure alone. If shame was enough, Facebook would have changed after the 2016 election. Or the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Or the 2020 election.

Even as dozens of major brands pulled their ads on Facebook’s loose approach to controlling hate speech, the company barely felt a ding. Its stock is up 54% since that time (while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 48% over the same period).

So it’s up to Washington to fix Facebook. And that’s no easy task, even if Congress isn’t hampered by its own internal strife and the threat of America’s first debt default.

Part of the problem with regulating Facebook is that lawmakers and regulators feel in the dark about a solution to a problem that society has never faced before. To borrow Haugen’s metaphor, it’s like the Department of Transportation writing down the rules of the road without knowing that seat belts are an option.

And according to Haugen, Facebook’s structure is uniquely questionable, even among tech companies.

“In other big tech companies like Google, any independent researcher can download a company’s search results from the Internet and write a paper about what they find,” she said. “But Facebook hides behind walls that prevent researchers and regulators from understanding the true dynamics of their systems.”

Why this could be a turning point

But let’s put on our rose-tinted glasses for a moment.

Haugen’s claims differ from previous disclosures about Facebook, as it filed a whistleblower claim with the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing the company of misleading investors. An internal document cited by the Journal it is so clearly written You’d be surprised who had the audacity to put this down on paper: “We’re not really doing what we say we do in public.”

Needless to say, not a huge no for a publicly traded company.

sheer scale Thousands of pages, some of them attorney-client-privileged, from documents Haugen provided to journalists and members of Congress. Make her case unique, too – according to the Journal.

We need to accept the reality, says Facebook whistleblower.  here's what could happen next

Those documents offer some of the most knock-your-hair-back evidence that Facebook is responsible for real, tangible harm, including worsening body-image issues among teens on Instagram, allowing misinformation to flourish and celebrities or others. Including allowing public figures to infringe on Facebook’s content. Rules, according to the Journal.

It’s Erin Brockovich’s moment—the big company knows it’s poisoning the water, but it’s turning a blind eye. Now the question: Will Congress do anything about it?


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