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‘Facebook can’t keep its head in the sand’: five experts debate the company’s future

‘Facebook can’t keep its head in the sand’: five experts debate the company’s future

Facebook‘Facebook can’t keep its head in the sand’: five experts debate the company’s futureWhistleblower Frances Haugen testified the company is harming children and putting profits over safety, but what lies ahead? Johana BhuiyanThu 7 Oct 2021 06.00 EDTThe congressional testimony of Frances Haugen is being described as a potential watershed moment after the former Facebook employee turned whistleblower warned lawmakers must “act now” to rein in the social media company.But the impact of the hearing – in which Haugen used her time at Facebook and leaked internal research to build a case that it is harming children, destabilizing democracies, and putting profits over safety – is uncertain, as lawmakers, experts and regulators remain split over the path forward. The Guardian spoke to several experts across the tech industry about what could and should lie ahead for Facebook. The interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.‘Surveillance capitalism is as immoral as child labor’Roger McNamee, early Facebook investor and member of Facebook’s oversight boardFrances Haugen’s revelations and testimony before Congress are devastating to Facebook. She is courageous, authoritative, and utterly convincing. We knew about the issues before, but she changed the game by providing internal documents that prove Facebook’s management had early warning of many horrible problems and chose not to take appropriate steps. In her testimony, she confirmed that the incentives of Facebook’s business model lead to the amplification of fear and outrage to the detriment of public health and democracy.When …

Facebook whistleblower’s testimony could finally spark action in Congress

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Facebook whistleblower’s testimony could finally spark action in Congress

FacebookFacebook whistleblower’s testimony could finally spark action in CongressDespite years of hearings, the company has long seemed untouchable. But Frances Haugen appears to have inspired rare bipartisanship Kari PaulWed 6 Oct 2021 08.14 EDTFirst published on Wed 6 Oct 2021 01.00 EDTThe testimony of Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, is likely to increase pressure on US lawmakers to undertake concrete legislative actions against the formerly untouchable tech company, following years of hearings and circular discussions about big tech’s growing power.In a hearing on Tuesday, the whistleblower shared internal Facebook reports with Congress and argued the company puts “astronomical profits before people”, harms children and is destabilizing democracies.Facebook harms children and is damaging democracy, claims whistleblowerRead moreAfter years of sparring over the role of tech companies in past American elections, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Tuesday appeared to agree on the need for new regulations that would change how Facebook targets users and amplifies content.“Frances Haugen’s testimony appears to mark a rare moment of bipartisan consensus that the status quo is no longer acceptable,” said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a non-profit that fights hate speech and misinformation. “This is increasingly becoming a non-political issue and one that has cut through definitively to the mainstream.”On Wednesday morning Richard Blumenthal, chair of the Senate commerce sub-committee that hosted Haugen the day before, condemned Facebook again …

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Facebook whistleblower accuses firm of serially misleading over safety

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Facebook whistleblower accuses firm of serially misleading over safety

FacebookFacebook whistleblower accuses firm of serially misleading over safety Frances Haugen filed at least eight complaints against the company regarding its approach to safety Dan Milmo Global technology editorTue 5 Oct 2021 07.50 EDTLast modified on Tue 5 Oct 2021 08.44 EDTThe Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who testifies at the US Congress on Tuesday, has filed at least eight complaints with the US financial watchdog accusing the social media company of serially misleading investors and politicians over its approach to safety.The complaints, published online by the news programme 60 Minutes late on Monday, hours before Haugen’s testimony to US senators at 10am EDT (3pm BST), are based on tens of thousands of internal documents that Haugen copied shortly before she quit Facebook in May.The complaints and testimony from Haugen, who stepped forward on Sunday as the source of a damning series of revelations in the Wall Street Journal, are taking place against a backdrop of operational chaos for Facebook, whose platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, went offline around the world for nearly six hours on Monday.The first whistleblower complaint filed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission relates to the 6 January riots in Washington, when crowds of protesters stormed the Capitol, and alleges that Facebook knowingly chose to permit political misinformation and contests statements made by its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to the contrary.“Our anonymous client is disclosing original evidence showing that Facebook … has, for years past and ongoing, …

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Facebook putting profit before public good, says whistleblower Frances Haugen

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Facebook putting profit before public good, says whistleblower Frances Haugen

FacebookFacebook putting profit before public good, says whistleblower Frances HaugenInternal papers show firm is lying about making progress against hate, violence and misinformation, ex-employee says Kari Paul and Dan MilmoMon 4 Oct 2021 06.12 EDTFirst published on Sun 3 Oct 2021 20.27 EDTA former Facebook employee has accused the company of putting profit over the public good, after coming forward as the whistleblower who leaked a cache of internal documents that have placed the tech firm in its worst crisis since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.Frances Haugen, 37, said the thousands of documents she had collected and shared with the Wall Street Journal and US law enforcement showed the company was lying to the public that it was making significant progress against hate, violence and misinformation.“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimise for its own interests, like making more money,” she said.In an interview with the news program 60 Minutes on Sunday, Haugen explained her decision to speak out about the internal workings of Facebook, saying she had become alarmed by what she perceived as company policies that prioritized profit over public safety.“The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” she said.Haugen said she was recruited to join Facebook as …

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As a whistleblower prepares to speak out, what can be done to rein in Facebook?

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As a whistleblower prepares to speak out, what can be done to rein in Facebook?

FacebookAs a whistleblower prepares to speak out, what can be done to rein in Facebook?Pressure grows on social network after US senators challenge Instagram over impact of app on children’s mental health Dan Milmo Global technology editorSat 2 Oct 2021 01.00 EDTLast modified on Sat 2 Oct 2021 05.28 EDTUS lawmakers have left Facebook in no doubt this week that revelations about the impact of its Instagram app on teen mental health have further damaged the company’s reputation. The Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal said the social network was “indefensibly delinquent” in its behaviour and had “chosen growth over children’s mental health”, after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Facebook’s internal research had flagged concerns that its photo-sharing app was damaging the wellbeing of young users.The pressure on Facebook is likely to increase on Sunday when a whistleblower appears on US TV to claim that the company is lying to the public and investors about the effectiveness of its attempts to remove hate, violence and misinformation from its platforms.The whistleblower, who has submitted thousands of internal documents to the US financial regulator, will then appear at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.The WSJ report and the whistleblower’s appearance take place against a backdrop of active attempts to rein in the power of Facebook and other tech companies. Here are some of the proposals being considered for regulating Facebook.A break-upThe US competition watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, has lodged a lawsuit demanding that …

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Facebook ‘overpaid in data settlement to avoid naming Zuckerberg’

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Facebook ‘overpaid in data settlement to avoid naming Zuckerberg’

Mark ZuckerbergFacebook ‘overpaid in data settlement to avoid naming Zuckerberg’Lawsuit alleges settlement in Cambridge Analytica case driven by desire to protect founder Dan Milmo Global technology editorFri 24 Sep 2021 11.12 EDTLast modified on Fri 24 Sep 2021 11.39 EDTFacebook paid $4.9bn more than necessary to the US Federal Trade Commission in a settlement over the Cambridge Analytica scandal in order to protect Mark Zuckerberg, a lawsuit has claimed.The lawsuit alleges that the size of the $5bn settlement was driven by a desire to protect Facebook’s founder and chief executive from being named in the FTC complaint.Facebook was fined by the FTC in 2019 for “deceiving” users about its ability to keep personal information private, after a year-long investigation into the Cambridge Analytica data breach, where a UK analysis firm harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters.“Zuckerberg, [chief operating officer Sheryl] Sandberg, and other Facebook directors agreed to authorise a multibillion settlement with the FTC as an express quid pro quo to protect Zuckerberg from being named in the FTC’s complaint, made subject to personal liability, or even required to sit for a deposition,” said the shareholder lawsuit filed in Delaware last month but made public this week.The suit quotes a commissioner on the FTC, Rohit Chopra, who said the government “essentially traded getting more money, so that an individual did not have to submit to sworn testimony and I just think that’s fundamentally wrong”.The lawsuit claims that the settlement …

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Facebook: some high-profile users ‘allowed to break platform’s rules’

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Facebook: some high-profile users ‘allowed to break platform’s rules’

Facebook: some high-profile users ‘allowed to break platform’s rules’ XCheck system ‘whitelists’ well-known users who are given special treatment, says Wall Street Journal report Dan Milmo Global technology editor, Mon 13 Sep 2021 15.50 EDT — Facebook gives high-profile users special treatment, which includes immunity from its rules for some, and allowed Brazilian footballer Neymar […]

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