Facebook Whistleblower Tells UK MPs Platform 'Unquestionably Making Hate Worse'
18:42 GMT 25.10.2021 (Updated: 18:21 GMT 03.11.2022)
Whistleblower Frances Haugen previously claimed to the US Congress that the platform had failed to do enough to block protesters against Joe Biden's confirmation as president-elect on 6 January this year from posting on the site before and during their brief occupation of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Facebook insider Frances Haugen has claimed to MPs that the social media giant puts profits before blocking "misinformation" from alternative media sources.
Haugen was flown to the UK as a guest of Parliament to answer questions about methods for monitoring and censoring social media.
She claimed to a committee of MPs and peers scrutinising the Online Safety Bill that the Big Tech corporation's policies "unquestionably making hate worse".
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said the bill which is under discussion in the Parliament is aimed at preventing online abuse of individuals from anonymous accounts. Online threats and harassment, whether by telephone or Internet, are already illegal in the UK and often punished with a prison sentence.
Haugen said Facebook's algorithms pushed increasingly "extreme" content on users based on their preferences and interactions with "mainstream" media and public figures, challenging Facebook spokesman and former British Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's comment that it "takes two to tango" and exposure to such content was down to users' choices.
"The algorithms take people who have very mainstream interests and they push them towards extreme interests", she said. "You can be someone centre-left and you'll be pushed radical left. You can be centre-right and you'll be pushed radical right".
24 October 2021, 11:59 GMT
"When I worked on counter espionage, I saw things where I was concerned about national security and I had no idea how to escalate those because I didn't have faith in my chain of command", Haugen said.
"When we see something like an oil spill, that oil spill doesn't make it harder for a society to regulate oil companies. But right now the failures of Facebook
are making it harder for us to regulate Facebook", she added.
"I flagged repeatedly when I worked on integrity that I felt that critical teams were understaffed", Hagen continued. "Right now there's no incentives internally, that if you make noise, saying we need more help — people will not get rallied around for help, because everyone is underwater".
Haugen previously testified to the US Congress that Mark Zuckerberg's site had failed to act swiftly to block protesters at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on 6 January from communicating
"You can be looking for healthy recipes and you'll be pushed to anorexia content", Haugen even claimed.
And she claimed groups for people with shared interests become "echo-chambers" that polarised opinions.
"One of the things that happens with groups and networks of groups is people see echo chambers that create social norms", Haugen said. "When that context is around hate you see a normalisation of hate, a normalisation of dehumanising others, and that's what leads to violent incidents".
Haugen also said Facebook's "integrity systems" were failing to ensure users only see "high-quality" news sources, and was taking a one percent rise in profits over cutting "misinformation" by five or ten percent.
And she said those systems needed to be expanded to monitor posts in all languages, in the name of "linguistic diversity".
Asked whether Facebook executives cared if they were harming children and young people, Haugen said she couldn’t “see into the hearts of men”, but added: “When they see a conflict of interest between people and profits, they choose profits”.
Haugen told the committee she "came forward now because now is the most critical time to act".
She urged MPs to expand the bill to restrict "legal but harmful" free speech
, claiming "misinformation costs lives".