By: Peter Babb
Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites in the world. With nearly 2.89 billion people on the site. However, Facebook finds itself in controversy, one that could involve the United States Congress.
On October 4, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen came forward on CBS 60 Minutes with bombshell information about the company.
Haugen claims that Facebook “chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” over the safety of children and users on the gigantic platform.
Haugen then testified to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection on October 5. There she testified that Congress must require Facebook to become more transparent with their information and data. Facebook has been grilled in the past by Congress over the handling of misinformation and censorship on their site.
During her testimony, Haugen referred to how Facebook handled the Jan.6 riot at the U.S Capitol. “Facebook has been emphasizing a false choice. They said safeguards that were put in place implicated free speech. But the choices that were happening on the platform, were about how viral was the platform,” said Haugen.
Facebook last week announced that Instagram would ‘pause’ their development of a new app that is aimed at children. This came after multiple child safety groups raised concerns over Instagram’s harmful effect on teenagers. Believing that the new app would lead to the same harmful effects on children.
Haugen said, “I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, weaken our democracy, and much more.”
Haugen confirmed that she was the one that gave documents to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The WSJ reported that Facebook was aware of the harm it has done to younger audiences.
Haugen also said in her testimony that Facebook is stuck in “moral bankruptcy,” and is “in a loop it can’t get out of.” Facebook released a statement saying that Haugen did not work on “child safety, Instagram, or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook.”
Haugen did, however, say that she opposes breaking up social media. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is pursuing an antitrust case to break up Facebook and Instagram.
It is unclear if Haugen’s testimony will lead to regulations from Congress, but it has damaged Facebook’s reputation. Once again, putting doubt into whether or not Facebook can regulate itself and protect younger audiences.