Facebook 'unquestionably making hate worse' says whistleblower
Frances Haugen has said that the social media giant is designed to fuel episodes of violent unrest around the world.
Frances Haugen, former Facebook employee and subsequent company whistleblower, has said that the social media platform is "unquestionably" making hatred worse throughout society.
Speaking before a parliamentary select committee in Westminster on Monday, Haugen argued that Facebook's algorithms are designed to promote divisive content, in particular.
Asked if the platform was "making hate worse", Haugen responded:
"Unquestionably, it is making hate worse."
Elaborating on how the platform can potentially radicalise people across the globe, Haugen said:
"The events we're seeing around the world, things like Myanmar and Ethiopia, those are the opening chapters because engagement-based ranking does two things.
"One, it prioritises and amplifies divisive and polarising extreme content. And two, it concentrates it."
Haugen, who previously served as a product manager on Facebook's civic misinformation team, has been testifying before MPs, providing damning evidence of the company's alleged disregard for the welfare of its millions of users.
MPs are due to vote on new legislation in relation to online safety. Haugen's testimony is seen as potentially greatly impactful, following calls for tougher regulation of social media platforms.
In conversation with the Observer prior to Monday's hearing, Haugen accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of not having shown any readiness in protecting the general public from harm that his company may be causing.
“Right now, Mark [Zuckerberg] is unaccountable," she said.
"He has all the control. He has no oversight, and he has not demonstrated that he is willing to govern the company at the level that is necessary for public safety."
On Monday, Haugen said that critical teams were understaffed during her time with Facebook.
She highlighted its "start-up culture", noting that there is a belief in place that the company can achieve huge results with minimal resources.
Haugen added that while Facebook says it is spending $14 billion on safety, the question, from her point of view, is whether it should be spending as much as $35 billion.
Also on Monday, a leaked 2019 memo seen by the Guardian, purports that Facebook has admitted that parts of its site are "hardwired" for spreading misinformation and divisive content.
“We also have compelling evidence that our core product mechanics, such as vitality, recommendations, and optimising for engagement, are a significant part of why these types of speech flourish on the platform," said the memo.