Facebook whistleblower to testify at House hearing

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen will testify Wednesday at a House Energy and Commerce technology subcommittee hearing to discuss proposals to a provision that protects tech companies from being held legally responsible for content posted on their sites by third parties. 

It will be Haugen’s second time testifying on Capitol Hill, following her debut appearance last month at a Senate Commerce hearing after she leaked documents about internal Facebook research. 

Haugen will testify on a panel alongside Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Common Sense Media founder and CEO James Steyer, Democrats announced Monday. 

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A second panel will feature four other experts in the area: Karen Kornbluh, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Carrie Goldberg, owner of C.A. Goldberg Law Firm, Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel at Free Press Action, and Mary Anne Franks, professor at the University of Miami School of Law. 

Wednesday’s hearing, focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, is the first of two the committee has scheduled for December on tech issues. 

The following Thursday, Dec. 9, the consumer protection subcommittee will hold a hearing on proposals focused on proposals to enhance transparency and promote online safety. 

There has been bipartisan criticism of tech giants and an array of proposals to reform Section 230, but little consensus on a way to go forward. 

During last month’s Senate hearing, Democrats and Republicans touted Haugen as a credible witness and praised her for coming forward. The Senate hearing largely focused on issues related to children’s safety, which has emerged as a rare, unifying issue for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 

The Senate is also pushing forward with hearings focused on the widely reported documents leaked by Haugen. Next week the Senate Consumer Protection subcommittee will hold a hearing featuring the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri. 

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has pushed back on the reports leaked by Haugen and her testimony. The company has said the research, which showed toxic impacts of Instagram on young users, has been mischaracterized.