Zuckerberg Finally Speaks Out on Facebook Whistleblower

CEO posts lengthy memo defending company against scathing claims by Frances Haugen
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2021 7:21 AM CDT
Zuckerberg on Whistleblower's Claims: 'Deeply Illogical'
SumOfUs erected a 7-foot visual protest outside the US Capitol in Washington on Thursday, depicting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surfing on a wave of cash, while young women surround him appearing to be suffering.   (Eric Kayne/AP Images for SumOfUS)

Amid what's been a tumultuous week for Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg took some time out Tuesday from sailing to address allegations by a whistleblower that have rocked the social media platform. "Many of the claims don't make any sense," the 37-year-old CEO said in a company memo that touched on Frances Haugen, the former Facebook project manager who's spoken out about her ex-employer on 60 Minutes and before Congress. Haugen has claimed that Facebook's practices are dangerous, stoking political divisions, perpetuating misinformation, and putting users at risk, especially young ones.

"False picture," "deeply illogical," and "mischaracterization" is how Zuckerberg paints Haugen's claims, per his memo, which he publicly shared Tuesday. He notes that Facebook has an "industry-leading research program" in place to look into many of the issues Haugen has raised, and that the company has shifted lately away from viral videos and toward more "meaningful social interactions" in its News Feed algorithm, meaning people will ostensibly spend less time on the platform. "Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do?" he asks.

He also pushes back on allegations that Facebook drives polarization—"I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed"—and gets especially prickly on the subject of how Facebook affects children. "We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being, and mental health," he writes, adding that he's long pushed for "updated internet regulations." Per the Guardian, Zuckerberg's post also touches on the platform outage that took Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp offline for about six hours on Monday. "It's been quite a week," he writes.

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Up until Tuesday's remarks, Zuckerberg had been silent on Haugen's claims, per the Verge, which notes some lawmakers were miffed at his sailing video, as they felt it showed him trying to "[avoid] scrutiny." The outlet notes his 1,300-word rebuttal also didn't mention that the same congressional panel Haugen spoke in front of has asked Zuckerberg to testify. Per Mashable, Facebook isn't being transparent enough, and the outlet calls Zuckerberg's defense the "same old," noting that all the best programs in the world won't help if the platform misuses them or doesn't heed their findings. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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