Whistleblower: Facebook Knowingly Harms Children

Facebook experienced a massive outage on Monday, but the outage seems to be just the tip of the iceberg for the company amid new testimony from a whistleblower today.

A Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing Tuesday featured several lawmakers blasting the social media company as well as continued testimony from a former employee who said Facebook is harming the nation.

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The testimony comes after the Wall Street Journal’s reporting of internal documents showed that the company knew that Instagram, owned by Facebook, had a negative impact on the mental health of teenagers.

“I think we’re going to look back 20 years from now and all of us are going to be like ‘what the hell were we thinking?'” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

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Whistleblower Frances Haugen argued that the company is harmful to Democracy and to children.

“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Haugen said. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.”

She called on Congress to step in, though how exactly that would happen remains unclear. Regulating the company and holding it responsible for posts of users has raised questions of free speech and freedom of association that have yet to be resolved.

“As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable,” she testified. “Until the incentives change, Facebook will not change. Left alone, Facebook will continue to make choices that go against the common good.”

In fact, members on both sides of the aisle have raised serious concerns about Facebook’s practices, including targeting children to keep them on the site longer.

“It has profited off spreading misinformation and disinformation and sowing hate,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “Facebook’s answers to Facebook’s destructive impact always seems to be more Facebook, we need more Facebook — which means more pain, and more money for Facebook.”

Shares of Facebook (FB) ended the day 2% higher at $332.96 after closing down 5% on Monday.

 

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