Facebook will fuel further unrest -whistleblower

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A former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower on Monday (October 25) told British lawmakers the social media site was fueling violent unrest around the world.

"A core part of why I came forward, was I looked at the consequences, and choices Facebook was making, and I looked at things like the global south, and I believe situations like Ethiopia are just part of the opening chapters of a novel that is going to be horrific to read."

Frances Haugen was a product manager for Facebook, and recently went public with her accusations that the company knowingly permitted harmful content on the platform, putting profits before safety.

"I think there is a view inside the company that safety is a cost center, not a growth center."

The world's biggest social network rejected the charges.

Haugen – who testified earlier this month in the U.S. Congress - turned over a trove of internal Facebook documents to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which were made available to Reuters and other news organizations.

They showed Facebook knew it hadn't hired enough staff with the language skills and knowledge of local events needed to flag harmful content in a number of developing countries.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month that it was deeply illogical to argue that Facebook deliberately pushed content that made people angry, saying advertisers don’t want to be associated with harmful content.

But on Monday, Haugen pushed back.

"An ad that gets more engagement, is a cheaper ad. We have seen, over and over again in Facebook's research, it is easier to provoke people to anger, than to empathy or compassion. And so we are literally subsidizing hate on these platforms."

Some U.S. lawmakers have said it’s time for big tech to face public health regulations akin to those imposed on tobacco companies.

Britain is bringing forward laws that could fine social media companies if they fail to remove or limit the spread of illegal content.

Haugen isn’t finished with Facebook. She’s scheduled to speak at a major tech conference, the Web Summit, next week.

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