Facebook Whistleblower Testifies Before U.K. Committee

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By Associated Press
October 25, 2021

The parliamentary committee is scrutinizing British draught authorities to tackle harmful contented connected societal media.

Former Facebook information scientist-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen plans to reply questions Monday from lawmakers successful the United Kingdom who are moving connected authorities to rein successful the powerfulness of societal media companies.

Haugen is acceptable to look earlier a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government's draught authorities to ace down connected harmful online content, and her comments could assistance lawmakers beef up the caller rules. She's testifying the aforesaid time that Facebook is acceptable to merchandise its latest net and that The Associated Press and different quality organizations started publishing stories based connected thousands of pages of interior institution documents she obtained.

It volition beryllium her 2nd quality earlier lawmakers aft she testified successful the U.S. Senate earlier this period astir the information she says the institution poses, from harming children to inciting governmental unit and fueling misinformation. Haugen cited interior probe documents she secretly copied earlier leaving her occupation successful Facebook's civic integrity unit.

The documents, which Haugen provided to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, allege Facebook prioritized profits implicit information and hid its ain probe from investors and the public. Some stories based connected the files person already been published, exposing interior turmoil aft Facebook was blindsided by the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot and however it dithered implicit curbing divisive contented successful India, and much is to come.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has disputed Haugen's portrayal of the institution arsenic 1 that puts nett implicit the well-being of its users oregon that pushes divisive content, saying a mendacious representation is being painted. But helium does hold connected the request for updated net regulations, saying lawmakers are champion capable to measure the tradeoffs.

Haugen told U.S. lawmakers that she thinks a national regulator is needed to oversee integer giants similar Facebook, thing that officials successful Britain and the European Union are already moving on.

The U.K. government's online information measure calls for mounting up a regulator that would clasp companies to relationship erstwhile it comes to removing harmful oregon amerciable contented from their platforms, specified arsenic violent worldly oregon kid enactment maltreatment images.

"This is rather a large moment," Damian Collins, the lawmaker who chairs the committee, said up of the hearing. "This is simply a moment, benignant of similar Cambridge Analytica, but perchance bigger successful that I deliberation it provides a existent model into the psyche of these companies."

Collins was referring to the 2018 debacle involving data-mining steadfast Cambridge Analytica, which gathered details connected arsenic galore arsenic 87 cardinal Facebook users without their permission.

Representatives from Facebook and different societal media companies program to talk to the committee Thursday.

Ahead of the hearing, Haugen met the begetter of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old miss who killed herself successful 2017 aft viewing disturbing contented connected Facebook-owned Instagram. In a chat filmed by the BBC, Ian Russell told Haugen that aft Molly's death, her household recovered notes she wrote astir being addicted to Instagram.

Haugen besides is scheduled to conscionable adjacent period with European Union officials successful Brussels, wherever the bloc's enforcement committee is updating its integer rulebook to amended support net users by holding online companies much liable for amerciable oregon unsafe content.

Under the U.K. rules, expected to instrumentality effect adjacent year, Silicon Valley giants look an eventual punishment of up to 10% of their planetary gross for immoderate violations. The EU is proposing a akin penalty.

The U.K. committee volition beryllium hoping to perceive much from Haugen astir the information that tech companies person gathered. Collins said the interior files that Haugen has turned implicit to U.S. authorities are important due to the fact that it shows the benignant of accusation that Facebook holds — and what regulators should beryllium asking erstwhile they analyse these companies.

The committee has already heard from different Facebook whistleblower, Sophie Zhang, who raised the alarm aft uncovering grounds of online governmental manipulation successful countries specified arsenic Honduras and Azerbaijan earlier she was fired.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.