Facebook Whistleblower Says Platform Is 'Tearing Our Societies Apart,' Zuckerberg Responds (UPDATE)

In a new interview with '60 Minutes,' the previously unidentified whistleblower comes forward to speak about her decision to share alleged internal research.

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UPDATED 10/6, 1:47 p.m. ET: Mark Zuckerberg has issued a lengthy response to the claims surrounding Facebook amid widespread news coverage of whistleblower Frances Haugen.

In a 60 Minutes interview earlier this month, Haugen—a data scientist who was initially recruited by the Facebook team in 2019—pointed to “conflicts of interest” at the company and said the version of the site that exists today “is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence” worldwide.

Following the interview, which itself was succeeded by Haugen testifying before Congress, Zuckerberg took to Facebook to again reference this week’s mass outage and push back against the claims. Zuckerberg argued that a “false picture of the company” was being painted, claiming that the company cares “deeply” about issues including mental health and user safety.

“At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true,” he said.

See Zuckerberg’s full note here. And below, hear an excerpt of Haugen’s testimony.

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See original story below.

Frances Haugen, who anonymously filed complaints last month in connection with what she describes as Facebook’s continued “conflicts of interest,” has given an extensive interview in which she goes deep on her decision to come forward.

According to Haugen, internal research from Facebook proves an amplification of misinformation and hateful rhetoric, with the company allegedly opting to hide such information. Later this week, she’s slated to give testimony in front of Congress

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook, and Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its interests, like making more money,” Haugen, known as “the Facebook whistleblower,” said in a 60 Minutes feature that aired Sunday.

Haugen, a data scientist with more than a decade of experience in the social media space, said she was initially recruited by Facebook in 2019. She agreed to take the gig, but only with the expectation that she could work diligently in the fight against misinformation. What’s happening at Facebook, she says now, is “substantially worse” than what’s happening at other, similar companies.

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“The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” she said. In 2020, Haugen says, Facebook chose to dissolve its Civic Integrity division. Months later, the country was gripped by coverage of the fatal Capitol riot. While Facebook has argued that the duties of that division were spread across other areas of the company, Haugen points to it as a key example of the problem.

“I have a lot of empathy for Mark [Zuckerberg],” Haugen said. “Mark has never set out to make a hateful platform. But he has allowed choices to be made where the side effects of those choices are that hateful, polarizing content gets more distribution and more reach.”

See more of Haugen’s 60 Minutes interview, including mention of the effects of Facebook-owned Instagram on teens, up top. Complex has reached out to a Facebook rep for additional comment and will update this post accordingly. Per the Associated Press, Facebook’s VP of policy and public affairs called Haugen’s allegations “misleading” in a memo shared prior to the airing of the full interview.

Over the summer, when asked to comment on the spreading of pandemic misinformation on Facebook and elsewhere, President Joe Biden said the platforms are “killing people” amid a pandemic of “the unvaccinated.”

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