NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A former Facebook data scientist has stunned lawmakers and the public with revelations of the company’s awareness of apparent harm to some teens from Instagram and her accusations of dishonesty in its fight against hate and misinformation. Now she is coming before Congress Tuesday.
Frances Haugen came forward with a wide-ranging condemnation of Facebook. After recent reports in The Wall Street Journal based on documents she leaked to the newspaper raised a public outcry, Haugen revealed her identity in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday.
Haugen said the company’s Instagram subsidiary is harmful to many, especially teenage girls by damaging their self-image and increasing thoughts of suicide.
She is expected to testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection at a hearing convened by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Tuesday.
Blumenthal, who has been very outspoken against Facebook, said he met with Haugen and gone over her documents.
“Those documents show Facebook’s raw greed in dragging children to dark places and deepening insecurities, leading to online bullying, eating disorders, self-injury, even suicide,” Blumenthal tweeted.
While we will all hear from Haugen Tuesday, Blumenthal said he hopes her example will spur more whistleblowers to step forward from Facebook and other tech companies.
Facebook maintains that Haugen’s allegations are misleading and insists there is no evidence to support the premise that it is the primary cause of social polarization.
If you tried to access Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp on Monday, you may have had some trouble. The whole Facebook empire was down for hours in a worldwide outage. Facebook didn’t say what might have caused the outage, which began around 11:40 a.m. EDT and was still not fixed more than six hours later.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.