Facebook whistleblower 'shocked' at focus on metaverse

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Monday said she was “shocked” to learn that the tech giant was putting resources into its metaverse project rather than safety initiatives.

“I was shocked to hear that Facebook wants to double-down on the metaverse and that they’re going to hire 10,000 engineers in Europe to work on the metaverse,” Haugen said during testimony to a British parliamentary committee, according to NBC News.

“Because I was like, ‘Wow, do you know what we could have done with safety if we had 10,000 more engineers?’ It would have been amazing,” said Haugen, who has argued that Facebook has put profits over safety. 

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“I think there is a view inside the company that safety is a cost center, it’s not a growth center, which I think is very short-term in thinking because Facebook’s own research has shown that when people have worse integrity experiences on the site, they are less likely to retain,” Haugen said.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this month that Facebook plans to bring on 10,000 workers over the next five years for its metaverse project in Europe.

This summer, he said the metaverse is “going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet,” adding that he thinks it is “going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.”

In August, the company launched a virtual reality office workspace as part of its “metaverse plans.”

The company is now reportedly considering changing its name to something related to the metaverse.

Haugen delivered testimony before British lawmakers on Monday as part of the committee’s discussion regarding a draft of an online safety bill, which seeks to regulate social media, NBC News noted.

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Haugen, who earlier this month emerged as the Facebook whistleblower who provided bombshell internal documents to The Wall Street Journal, previously worked on Facebook’s civic integrity team.

Earlier this month, Haugen appeared before a U.S. Senate panel and offered damning testimony regarding the tech giant.

She also disclosed internal Facebook documents to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that are now being exposed in a series of stories — dubbed “The Facebook Files” — being reported by a group of 17 American news organizations.

The Hill reached out to Facebook for comment on Haugen’s latest testimony.