Former Facebook employee accuses platform of choosing growth over user safety

Conservatives have long complained about social media companies attempting to silence Donald Trump and his supporters — but it isn’t just right-wing politicians calling out Big Tech anymore. Recently, a so-called whistleblower came forward to reveal the truth about how one of the largest platforms is controlling its content.

But rather than saying that the controls are too tight, a former employee at Facebook is now charging the company with not taking its censorship far enough. 

The Hill reported that former Facebook employee Frances Haugen was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, where she provided details about how the Mark Zuckerberg-run social media company operates.

Ex-Facebook employee: Anger is profitable

Specifically, Haugen claimed that although Facebook had implemented systems to “reduce misinformation” in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, those moves were only temporary.

“And as soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me,” Haugen said, according to The Hill.

Haugen expressed particular concern over voices that she characterized as being hateful or divisive, and argued that Facebook’s procedures indirectly contributed to the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

“It’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions,” she contended, suggesting that Facebook did not limit angry content as doing so would be unprofitable.

“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,” Haugen said, as The Hill reported.

Facebook denies allegations

The Hill noted in its report that Facebook issued a statement in which the tech giant rejected Haugen’s allegations and pointed to “the 40,000 people working on safety and security at Facebook.”

“The growth of people or advertisers using Facebook means nothing if our services aren’t being used in ways that bring people closer together — that’s why we are investing so much in security that it impacts our bottom line,” the platform’s statement added.

“Every day our teams have to balance protecting the ability of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place,” Facebook said. “We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”

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