Ebay founder funding Facebook whistleblower: report

Julia Nikhinson

Pierre Omidyar, a founder of eBay and billionaire critic of big tech, is reportedly helping fund the Facebook whistleblower who leaked explosive internal documents to The Wall Street Journal last month.

Politico reported on Wednesday that Omidyar provided financial support to Frances Haugen and the public relations firm helping her, a cushion that many corporate whistleblowers do not have.

The billionaire and the whistleblower’s web of connections is expansive. 

Luminate, Omidyar’s philanthropic organization, has overseen Haugen’s European press and government relations. Omidyar also donated $150,000 last year to Whistleblower Aid, the group that is providing Haugen’s legal team, according to Politico.

Additionally, Bill Burton, Haugen’s spokesperson, who previously represented former President Obama, leads the Center for Humane Technology’s public affairs. That center receives funding from Omidyar, and Haugen appeared on a podcast for the center earlier this month, Politico added. 

Omidyar Network, one of the eBay founder’s other organizations, posted a blog post on Wednesday called “In Support of Tech Whistleblowers Who are Holding Tech to Account,” which asserted that “a handful of tech giants wield tremendous, unchecked power.”

“We are grateful to the brave people who have called out Big Tech for its bad behavior,” the post added. “They are an important part of creating systemic checks and balances for Big Tech. Because of them, policymakers are taking notice and taking action to rein in their excessive power and restore trust and balance in digital markets.”

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked internal documents from the social media giant to The Wall Street Journal last month. The records highlighted Facebook’s alleged shortcomings on combating misinformation, enabling the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and causing phychological damaging in younger users. 

Earlier this month, Haugen testified before a Senate panel and accused Facebook of prioritizing profits over user safety.

“Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth and virality and reactiveness over public safety,” Haugen told the panel. “They shouldn’t get a free pass on that because they’re paying for their profits right now with our safety.” 

Politico noted that Haugen is scheduled to testify before the U.K. parliament on Monday as well as appearances in Belgium and France next month.

The Hill has reached out to Facebook and the groups linked to Omidyar for comment. 

Tags Barack Obama Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen

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