Whistleblower tells UK lawmakers Facebook worsens online hate

Whistleblower tells UK lawmakers Facebook worsens online hate
© Julia Nikhinson

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told British lawmakers Monday the social media platform exacerbates online hate, with the company failing to allocate adequate resources to combat the issue. 

“Unquestionably, it’s making hate worse,” Haugen told a parliamentary committee. 

Her testimony follows an appearance before a Senate Commerce subcommittee earlier this month. Her United Kingdom appearance coincided with the publication of dozens of reports based on internal Facebook documents taken by Haugen before she left the company.

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During Monday’s committee meeting in the U.K., Haugen underscored accusations that Facebook doesn’t prioritize safety by referencing the company’s plans to ramp up hiring for its “metaverse.” Facebook said last week it is planning to hire up to 10,000 workers in Europe to build the plan for the virtual and augmented reality realm. 

“I was like, ‘Wow, do you know what we could have done with safety if we had 10,000 more engineers?’ It would be amazing,” she said. 

Haugen worked on Facebook’s civic integrity team. She’s previously said the company decided to dissolve the team after the 2020 election, before the deadly riot at the Capitol that was based around misinformation about the election results.

Facebook has pushed back on the claim, stating it “did not disband Civic Integrity,” but rather “integrated it into a larger Central Integrity Team.” 

A Facebook spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

The company had pushed back on Haugen’s Senate testimony, dismissing her as never having attended “a decision-point meeting with C-level executives,” and saying the reports mischaracterize the internal research that was leaked. 

Haugen is also scheduled to speak at the Web Summit tech conference next week, and to European policymakers in Brussels. 

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