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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen hailed as 21st century hero

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Watch live as Facebook whistleblower testifies to US Senate about child protection online

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has testified before a Senate hearing, urging the government to regulate the social media company.

In a rare moment of unity seldom seen in Congress, Ms Haugen responded to in-depth questions from lawmakers from both parties concerning the impact of social media on children, concerns about national security, and what her specific recommendations are for reforming the sector.

The testimony adds to Ms Haugen’s interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, said that the social network repeatedly prioritised “growth over safety” and is “tearing our societies apart”.

Facebook’s stock plummeted on Monday in the aftermath of Ms Haugen’s interview and as its companies experienced an extended service outage.

It was the worst session performance for the company in nearly a year with the share price falling 4.9 per cent – the worst decline since the five per cent drop recorded on 9 November 2020.

According to her written testimony, which is to be heard by the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, Ms Haugen will compare the social media giant’s practices to those in the tobacco and motoring industries.

“When we realized tobacco companies were hiding the harms it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer with seatbelts, the government took action,” Ms Haugen said in her written testimony. “I implore you to do the same here.”

Earlier this year, Ms Haugen left Facebook, where she worked as a member of its misinformation team. Prior to leaving her role, she copied a series of internal memos and documents that have been shared by The Wall Street Journal over the past three weeks.


Who is the Facebook whistleblower?

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is set to testify before a Senate hearing today. According to her written testimony, she will urge the government to regulate the social media company – which she claims is “tearing our societies apart”.

But who is Ms Haugen and how did her revelations come about? Lamiat Sabin reports

Harriet Sinclair5 October 2021 13:49


What caused Monday’s six hour outage?

Facebook revealed in an official blog post on Monday evening that the six-hour outage across its platforms including Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp, and OculusVR were caused by configuration changes to its routers.

The company said these changes disrupted network traffic between the company’s data centres. However, it said it has no evidence yet that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.

Vishwam Sankaran reports.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 14:49


What are Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s accusations?

Data scientist Frances Haugen, 37, a former Facebook product manager with its civic misinformation team, is testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday to discuss the complaints she has made to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding bad practice at the social networking giant.

Ms Haugen is expected to address her allegations concerning the company’s behaviour surrounding the 2020 US presidential election, its approach to hate speech and misinformation and the impact of its lifestyle app Instagram on the mental health of young women, among other issues.

Joe Sommerlad reports for The Independent.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 14:58


Hearing underway

The committee chairman, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is giving opening remarks describing Facebook as facing a “big tobacco moment”.

Watch live here:

Watch live as Facebook whistleblower testifies to US Senate about child protection online

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who has accused the social media company of prioritising profit over safety, is testifying to US senators.On Sunday, Haugen came forward as the whistleblower behind a series of damaging reports in the Wall Street Journal, while also telling a news programme that Facebook’s priority was making money over doing what was good for the public.She has been called to testify before the US Senate’s commerce subcommittee on the risks the company’s products pose to children.Haugen’s testimony comes less than 24 hours after Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp faced a major global outage.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:10


Blumenthal: Facebook maximises profits and ignores pain

Senator Blumenthal gives Ms Haugen his “heartfelt gratitude for your courage and strength … standing up to one of the most powerful, implacable corporate giants in the history of the world.”

He describes Facebook’s failure to act as making it “morally bankrupt”.

Mr Blumethal also says he wants to see Mark Zuckerberg testify.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:16


Facebook should face ‘real penalities’ if they misled investors

Senator Blumenthal calls on the SEC and FTC to investigate Ms Haugen’s revelations and calls for “real penalties” for Facebook if investors or the public have been misled by the company.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:20


Concern for teenagers on platform

Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, the committee’s ranking Republican, continued a theme begun by Senator Blumenthal — that of the concerns of parents and the adverse effects of social media on teenagers and pre-teens on the platform.

She adds that as a mother and grandmother this is of particular concern.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:26


Blackburn: Facebook ‘misrepresenting to this committee’

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:28


Haugen delivering her opening statement

Ms Haugen is now delivering her opening remarks and notes that while there are positives in the social media space, she says: “I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy.”

Her written statement is available here.

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:32


Ms Haugen testifies: “Yesterday, we saw Facebook get taken off the Internet. I don’t know why it went down, but I know that for more than five hours Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilise democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies”

Oliver O’Connell5 October 2021 15:33

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