Whistleblower Frances Haugen came to the Senate on Tuesday with a message about Facebook and its leaders: Don’t trust them. The former project manager accused Mark Zuckerberg and his company of knowingly pushing products that harm children and young adults in a pursuit of endlessly growing profits.
She and a series of lawmakers of both parties likened Facebook’s behavior to that of the tobacco industry — which persisted for decades in denying that cigarettes were addictive and deadly. She said Facebook’s failure to devote more resources to preventing foreign adversaries from using the platform in troubling ways poses a threat to U.S. national security, adding that “I’m speaking to other parts of Congress about that.”
“I am here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Haugen said, two days after going public in a “60 Minutes” interview. “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.”
Facebook has contended that news coverage of Haugen’s disclosures mischaracterizes the company’s internal research, and company spokesperson Andy Stone argued Tuesday that the whistleblower is not an expert in one of the main topics she’s testifying about.
Just pointing out the fact that @FrancesHaugen did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 5, 2021
“Just pointing out the fact that Frances Haugen did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook,” Stone tweeted.