October 8, 2021
The only likely way to have missed the news about the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who testified before Congress earlier this week, was if you buried your head under your blankets and pillows for a few days. (And listen, no judgments here…) But her story, and what she has uncovered about Facebook’s nearly unflinching pattern of choosing profits over people (a refrain in all the media coverage) despite the real dangers such choices have created for teenagers, our cohesiveness as a society and our democracy no less, is truly incredible. So, if you missed any of the news, here’s a few items to catch you up. First, Haugen’s full interview with 60 Minutes, when she first revealed her identity, is worth watching. Then you might read up in a Bloomberg Opinion piece why her revelations and her testimony may be so impactful. In short, with the trove of tens of thousands of documents she shared this supremely well-spoken woman, armed with a Harvard MBA and several patents under her name, “revealed what many suspected but couldn’t prove: that Facebook created more lenient secret rules for elite users, that Instagram made body issues worse for one in three teen girls, and that Facebook knowingly amped up outrage on its main site through an algorithm change in 2018, potentially leading to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol building.” It’s damning, to say the least. But given her clear suggestions for how to handle these problems, she also gives regulators a way better way to respond than they’ve had before. Finally, if you want to read the actual complaints against Facebook that Haugen’s lawyers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on her behalf, head to CBS News.