The Facebook whistleblower revealed herself, as promised, Sunday night on CBS' 60 Minutes. Frances Haugen is the formerly anonymous ex-Facebook employee who filed complaints against the social media company with federal law enforcement agencies last month, and leaked private Facebook research to the Wall Street Journal resulting in a series of investigative pieces that made big waves. (More on them here and here, or Facebook's rebuttal here.) The 37-year-old data scientist, who's also worked at Google and Pinterest, discussed what she saw as "conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook," accusing the social network of prioritizing profits over making actual strides against hate, violence, incitement, and misinformation online.
"The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world," she says. When she was first hired she was assigned to fight election misinformation, but, she says, as soon as the presidential election was over, many of the safeties Facebook put in place were removed. "Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money," she explains. Her belief is that the federal government should regulate the company.
Facebook issued a statement in response to the interview, reading in part, "Every day our teams have to balance protecting the right of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place." "Zuckerberg" was trending on Twitter after the interview, with people noting his silence on the matter. "One of the interesting things about the latest Facebook scandal is Zuckerberg’s decision not to address it—reportedly as a strategy to distance himself from the scandal," reads one sample reaction. "Does he think people will forget he is the CEO and maintains complete control over the company?" Another notes that Zuckerberg posted about his family going sailing on Sunday. (Read more Facebook stories.)