After a set of leaks last month that represented the most damaging insight into Facebook’s inner workings in the company’s history, the former employee behind them has come forward. Now Frances Haugen has given evidence to the US Congress – and been praised by senators as a ‘21st-century American hero’. Will her testimony accelerate efforts to bring the social media giant to heel?
On Monday, Facebook and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp went dark after a router failure. There were thousands of negative headlines, millions of complaints, and more than 3 billion users were forced offline. On Tuesday, the company’s week got significantly worse.
In this episode, Nosheeen Iqbal talks to the Guardian’s global technology editor, Dan Milmo, about what we learned from Haugen’s testimony, and how damaging a week this could be for Facebook. Milmo sets out the challenges facing the company as it seeks to argue that the whistleblower is poorly informed or that her criticism is mistaken. And he reflects on what options politicians and regulators around the world will consider as they look for ways to curb Facebook’s power, and how likely such moves are to succeed.
After Haugen spoke, Zuckerberg said her claims that the company puts profit over people’s safety were “just not true”. In a blog post, he added: “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content.” You can read more of Zuckerberg’s defense here. And you can read an analysis of how Haugen’s testimony is likely to affect Congress’s next move here.Updated Date: 08 October 2021, 09:29