Facebook Whistleblower | New Revelations On Facebook's Handling Of Hate

A former employee has apparently lodged a complaint with the stock exchange regulator. Facebook allowed problematic content to protect business interests.

After the first revelations by the former Facebook employee Frances Haugen in September, further internal documents and statements from employees suggest that the group may have deliberately placed profit over the common good again and again. Even after the US election, which was to be a turning point in Facebook's fight against misinformation.

As the Washington Post reported on the basis of as yet unpublished documents and chat logs sent to the US authorities by Frances Haugen as well as its own research, Facebook hasafter the election, measures that were supposed to curb misinformation were rashly repealed. As a result, the stop-the-steal movement, which questioned the official election result and believed in Donald Trump's election victory, grew rapidly and was able to storm the US Capitol on January 6th. Facebook removed the original stop-the-steal group in November; their followers then organized themselves into new groups with the same slogan. An internal document speaks of a "meteoric growth" of such groups. The containment measures, which were hastily reintroduced on January 6, would no longer have been sufficient to stop the mass of violent contributions.

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The group itself has never disclosed how its platforms - including Instagram and WhatsApp - could have fueled the storm on the US Capitol. Contrary to the recommendation of its Oversight Board, a body to review selected, symbolic content decisions, Facebook had refused to hand over the relevant data to an investigative commission of the US Congress. In a live event, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said the storm was organized on other platforms "that do not have our capacity to stop hatred".

The Washington Post also reported internal Facebook studies that show effective ways to mitigate political polarization, conspiracy theories, and incitement to hate. In many cases, however, those responsible would have refused to implement the corresponding steps. According to this, usage data from 2019 show, for example, that incorrect information from politicians can cause more damage than incorrect information that spreads normal profiles. Nevertheless , Facebook allowed false information to be given to politicians in a guideline ; their campaigns did not have to undergo factual checks like other sources.

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Moreover, it was announced on Friday that a former Facebook employee with the US Securities and Exchange Commission SEC has complaint against the company inserted. The whistleblower, who is not known by name, told the SEC, according to the Washington Post, how Facebook managers had regularly obstructed the fight against disinformation and other problematic content in 2017 when it came to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. They feared that they would upset the then US President Donald Trump or deter users.

"It will be a flash in the pan," said one of Facebook's PR managers, Tucker Bounds, at the time. "Some MPs will get angry. And in a few weeks they will be busy with something else. In the meantime, we are printing money in the basement and we are fine."

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen accuses her ex-employer of putting their own profits above people's safety. "I believe that Facebook's products harm children, fuel divisions and weaken our democracy," she said at a hearing in the US Congress in early October. Since then, more and more internal documents that she has passed on to Congress and the media have become public.

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Haugen was part of the Civic Integrity Team, a group of around 200 employees who had fought dangerous content on Facebook for years and, unlike other Facebook teams, had primarily dedicated themselves to the interests of the population, not the interests of Facebook. After the US election on December 2, 2020, the group announced the dissolution of the group. "Unbelievable progress" has been made, according to the written communication to the team. The 2020 elections were a milestone. The 200 employees should now be distributed to other teams. However, insiders suspected that the liquidation was not a success story, but that the Civic Integrity Team had become too uncomfortable for the corporate management and should therefore be broken up.

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