Facebook whistleblower: shareholders would oust Zuckerberg if they could

Julia Nikhinson

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told the Observer in an interview published on Saturday that she believed the social media company’s shareholders would seek different leadership than that of its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg if they could.

“I believe in shareholder rights and the shareholders, or shareholders minus Mark, have been asking for years for one share, one vote. And the reason for that is, I am pretty sure the shareholders would choose other leadership if they had an option,” Haugen told the news outlet.

She also claimed that Zuckerberg had not indicated that he was responsibly prioritizing public safety at Facebook. 

“He has all the control. He has no oversight and he has not demonstrated that he is willing to govern that company at the level that is necessary for public safety,” she told the Observer, a sister paper of The Guardian.

Haugen’s comments come as Facebook continues to find itself roiled in a myriad of issues after an initial series launched by the Wall Street Journal, which included leaked documents from the former Facebook product manager, indicated that the social media platform knew Instagram was harmful to some of its younger uses, did not take steps to address COVID-19 misinformation and was not doing enough to address cartels and traffickers using the platform.

Earlier this month, the former Facebook employee testified against her old employee and warned that Facebook should not get a free pass for the decisions it has previously made.

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

Facebook, which has pushed back at criticism waged by lawmakers and others, said in a statement to the Observer that while they are a business seeking to make a profit, they do care about safety. 

“At the heart of these stories is a premise which is false. Yes, we’re a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie. The truth is we’ve invested $13bn and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook,” the company told the Observer.

Facebook told the Observer in their statement that they were advocating for more regulations and said that, like other social media platforms, “we are constantly making difficult decisions between free expression and harmful speech, security, and other issues,” which they company claimed are not made in a “vacuum.”

Since the revelations about the social media giant, Facebook has said it would be pausing Instagram Kids, launching a “Take a Break” feature to pilot that would encourage occasionally teens to take a break from Instagram and incorporate a new feature that would help prod teens to stop look at conduct that “may not be conducive to their well-being.”

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Tags Facebook Frances Haugen Mark Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg Whistleblower

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