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Facebook slows new product rollout in wake of whistleblower blowback: report

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Facebook has slowed down the rollout of new products amid recent blowback garnered by public comments made by a company whistleblower, according to a Wall Street Journal report

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, also reported company executives have paused working on some existing products while the company conducts “reputational reviews” to ensure that the products don’t impact children.  

Facebook has come under scrutiny over the past few weeks after the Journal published a five-part series examining how Facebook handled issues like rhetoric around the coronavirus vaccine, and the effects of Instagram on younger users.  

The series was based on internal documents obtained by the outlet. Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, identified herself as the person who leaked the documents to the newspaper.

During a hearing before the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee on Tuesday, Haugen said Facebook heavily relied on artificial intelligence to combat hate speech, misinformation and inappropriate ads for children. She also said the company did not have enough employees to keep track of content.

After the hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement denying the company’s impacts on polarization.

“If social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world?” Zuckerberg wrote.

Late last month, Facebook-owned Instagram announced that it was pausing plans to launch “Instagram Kids” for children under the age of 13 amid the leaked reports.   

Amid the backlash, a team within Facebook is looking through all internal research that could be damaging to the company if released, the Journal reported.

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.

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