Facebook Whistleblower: Algorithms & Lax Censorship Allowed J6 Capitol Protest

Facebook Whistleblower: Algorithms & Lax Censorship
Allowed J6 Capitol Protest 1

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower, said in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday that the social media giant had the tools to prevent the protest at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but decided to prioritize “growth over safety,” CBS News reported.

The interview, though touted as an attack on Facebook, furthered the Left’s idea that Big Tech companies need to increase censorship to prevent more so-called disinformation from spreading online.

Haugen’s testimony, which includes thousands of pages of internal documents, stems from Facebook’s decision after the 2020 elections to abandon its Civic Integrity project, which controlled speech about the presidential and state and local races.

She said Facebook’s leaders told her, “‘We’re dissolving Civic Integrity.’ Like, they basically said, ‘Oh good, we made it through the election. There wasn’t riots. We can get rid of Civic Integrity now.’ Fast forward a couple months, we got the insurrection.”

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“And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me,” she said.

The federal government has not charged the Jan 6. political prisoners with insurrection, and most face charges for trespassing or interrupting congressional proceedings.

“And when they got rid of Civic Integrity, it was the moment where I was like, ‘I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous,’” Haugen said.

Before Haugen’s interview, an anonymous former Facebook employee filed numerous complaints against Facebook.

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The former employee alleges that the company knows its policies cause individual and political harm but does not plan to change them.

One complaint alleges that the company’s internal research found that Facebook-owned Instagram harms the emotional well-being of children, particularly teenage girls.

Another complaint said that Facebook knows its platform allows harmful misinformation to spread online.

Haugen brought forward a few of these internal studies.

Facebook estimates that it “may action as little as 3-5% of hate and about 6-tenths of 1% of V & I [violence and incitement] on Facebook despite being the best in the world at it.”

“We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech and misinformation on Facebook and the family of apps are affecting societies around the world,” another report concluded.

Haugen agreed to work for Facebook’s censorship division in 2019. The company sought her.

She had previously worked at Google and Pinterest. She has a master’s degree in business from Harvard University.

Haugen also said that Facebook actively promotes divisive content in order to drive clicks and engagement.

“And one of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is optimizing for content that gets engagement, or reaction,” she said. “But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.”

Facebook Executive Nick Clegg in an internal memo pre-empted Haugen’s whistleblower testimony, calling her claims about the Capitol protest “ludicrous.”

“What evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization,” Clegg said.

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