Facebook Whistleblower Tells Congress Facebook Products Harm Kids And Democracy

Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee in charge of leaking thousands of pages of private documents, told lawmakers Tuesday that Facebook's products "harm children, stoke division, weaken our democracy and much more."

Haugen appeared before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security to urge them to take action on reining in Facebook. The subcommittee is currently investigating the effects of Facebook and Instagram on teens and children.

"The company's leadership knows ways to make Facebook and Instagram safer and won't make the necessary changes because they have put their immense profits before people," Haugen said in her prepared testimony.

Haugen, who spent two years working at Facebook on a team tasks with combating political misinformation, leaked a plethora of internal communications showing that the company knew of the toxic risks of Instagram teenage girls' mental health, as well as the prevalence of drug cartels and human traffickers on its apps.

"As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it is accountable to no one. And it will continue to make choices that go against the common good," she said.

Still, the company denies Haugen's accusation. Faebook's Vice President of Trust and Safety Policy said that he thinks the "accusation is just a bit unfounded. At Facebook, what we are designing our products to do is to increase meaningful experiences, so whether those are meaningful social interactions...or having just positive social experience on a platform, that is what we want the product ultimately to provide. That makes an environment where people will come to Facebook, where they will come to Instagram, and have a better time."

Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, also the subcommittee's ranking member called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg out by name, promising to punish the company, stating "By shining a light on Mr. Zuckerberg and company's conduct, we will help hold them accountable."

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