Whistleblower Accuses Facebook of Ignoring Violent Rhetoric, Misinformation

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Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen has admitted to leaking tens of thousands of pages of internal company research which she says show that the company has been negligent in eliminating violence, misinformation and other harmful content from its services, and that it has misled investors about these efforts, reports the Washington Post. While working at Facebook in the company’s civic integrity division, Haugen realized it was not disclosing important information about the harms of its products to the public and the policymakers tasked with regulation, creating a situation she said posed a threat to democracy.

Before the 2020 election, Haugen said, Facebook implemented measures to prevent the spread of misinformation, but the company decided to dissolve many of these protections after the election. Haugen’s lawyers have filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has broad oversight over financial markets and can bring charges against companies suspected of misleading investors, resulting in fines or other penalties for companies and executives. To date, Congress has not passed any comprehensive social media bills into law, allowing companies like Facebook to flourish largely unhindered by legal restrictions. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), whose congressional panel will hear testimony from Haugen, said that the SEC should take “very seriously” her allegations that Facebook may have misled its investors and should be “very likely investigating formally.”

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