Fb Whistleblower Says Firm Dropped Guards Towards Political Misinformation In ‘60 Minutes’ Interview

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A former Facebook executive criticized the company’s decision to tighten safeguards against misinformation after the 2020 presidential election, while making her first public appearance on Sunday evening in 60 Minutes since posting thousands of pages of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal.

Frances Haugen, 37, said the social network suspended several measures to contain bad content following the election and allowed some members of the Jan. 6 riots to schedule the uprising on Facebook. Her time on Facebook had shown her that there was “conflict between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook”.

Haugen’s decision to become a whistleblower has catapulted Facebook into a new crisis as the documents it provides paint a scathing portrait of a company that often ignores its own cautionary internal research. Facebook has tried to aggressively dismiss concerns, often arguing that the leaked data is misinterpreted or presents only a limited picture of reality. It has shed light on a myriad of problems across the company – from Instagram’s impact on teenage mental health to Facebook’s algorithmic feed that incites anger and divisive content.

Haugen spent two and a half years as a product manager on Facebook’s Civic Integrity team, the department tasked with monitoring and limiting misinformation on the website. Prior to joining Facebook, she held roles on Pinterest, Google, and Yelp, according to LinkedIn. “I’ve seen a number of social networks and it was way worse on Facebook than anything I’d seen before,” she said.

At Faceboo, the Civic Integrity team played a key role in the company’s efforts to get through the presidential election relatively unscathed. But the group was formally disbanded after the election, with many of its members being transferred to similar roles on other Facebook teams. “When they got rid of Civid Intregrity,” said Haugen, “that was the moment I thought, ‘I don’t trust them to invest in what they need to protect Facebook.”

Facebook is not ready to make significant changes to its news feed algorithm, said Haugen. The content that sparked this hostility was usually rooted in conspiracy theories or outright misinformation. “Facebook realized that if they changed the algorithm to be more secure, people would spend less time on the site. They click fewer ads and make less money, ”she said.

Haugen will next appear before a congressional hearing on Tuesday, the second time Facebook has faced lawmakers last week. Antigone Davis, Facebook’s chief security officer, testified Thursday to a Senate subcommittee on child security issues in the company’s apps.

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