Ex-Facebook data scientist to testify before British lawmakers
Sophie Zhang — a former Facebook employee who worked as a data scientist for the tech giant — is set to testify before the United Kingdom’s Parliament, according to reports from CNBC.
Zhang’s scheduled testimony will come just one week after Frances Haugen’s testimony before the U.S. Congress about the harmful actions and negligence she alleges that Facebook partakes in across the globe. Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, is scheduled to testify before U.K. Parliament on Oct. 25.
Zhang will testify before British Parliament on Monday, according to a committee schedule, for a formal meeting on a draft of the Online Safety Bill.
Evidence brought before Parliament for the testimonies against Facebook “will inform the Committee’s work in shaping the Online Safety Bill, a seminal piece of legislation aimed at regulating social media due to be put before Parliament for approval in 2022,” according to an online statement from the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill.
Zhang has also stated that she is willing to testify before Congress, as she tweeted on Monday.
If Congress wishes for me to testify, I will fulfill my civic duty, as I’ve publicly stated for the past half year.
Last year, I testified privately before a European Parliamentary committee though I was avoiding press. My duty to democracy comes first.https://t.co/F0BAlzw5oh
— Sophie Zhang（张学菲） (@szhang_ds) October 12, 2021
She also indicated her willingness to testify to publicly “before the parliament of any other democratic nation.”
In Zhang’s memo that was originally reported by BuzzFeed News in 2020, she wrote that she “found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions.”
Zhang also tweeted that she provided detailed documentation of “potential criminal violations” to American law enforcement.
I provided detailed documentation regarding potential criminal violations to a U.S. law enforcement agency. My understanding is that the investigation is still ongoing.
I just didn’t choose to blast it across the front pages.
Why does that make me less of a whistleblower? https://t.co/tizQwetrsN
— Sophie Zhang（张学菲） (@szhang_ds) October 10, 2021
Facebook has pushed back hard at the allegations that it puts profits over safety.
“At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post last week. “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical.”