Whistleblower says Facebook has ‘a Meta problem’
Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen called Mark Zuckerberg to step down as CEO and said that the social media empire has ‘a Meta problem’.
The former Facebook employee, who leaked tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from the social media company (known as the ‘Facebook Papers crisis’), opened Lisbon’s Web Summit on Monday evening.
“There has been a pattern of behavior at Facebook where they have consistently prioritized their profits over our general safety, and I feel very grateful that people have taken seriously the evidence that I have disclosed,” said Haugen during the Web Summit. As she explained, “Facebook’s way of prioritizing content in the news feed has a side effect of prioritizing and amplifying the most extreme polarizing content”.
Among other things, the former Facebook employee stressed that less developed countries, such as Ethiopia, do not have – and will not have – the mechanisms to deal with the problem of lack of pluralism cultivated by Facebook.
“We need to have healthy organizations. One of the things that Facebook has that is different than say Twitter, is that at Twitter the branch that makes decisions about what content is safe to be on the platform reports through a different chain than the group of people that is responsible for making sure politicians are happy” said Haugen and explained that “at Facebook, those organizations report to the same person and the consequence is that people are often afraid to do actions that do have a lot of evidence and lots of thoughtful deliberations”.
As she pointed out “I believe in the power of archives of documentation, and I wanted to make sure that people had the information to make responsible decisions for themselves. As my mother said, every human being deserves the dignity of the truth. I profoundly believe that our societies deserve to have enough transparency into how Facebook works that we can make decisions which are in the public good”.
Haugen said her actions were driven by a belief that Facebook needed to change to have more transparency in our societies and reduce misinformation online. “There are a lot of ways that data could be released in an aggregated way that wouldn’t violate anyone’s privacy. We need to have mandated accountable transparency because we together need ten thousand eyes looking at how Facebook works. The way we are today can’t go on” she underlined.
Facebook has a Meta problem
Haugen also pointed out that there is a need for Mark Zuckerberg to quit Facebook and that the social media colossus instead of investing in expanding in the metaverse ought to secure the platform and provide a safer online environment for users’ data.
“I think there is a Meta problem at Facebook which is that over and over again Facebook chooses expansion and new areas over sticking the landing on what they have already done,” she said, declaring that there is a need to be more resources on Facebook’s very basic safety systems. “Instead of investing in making sure that our platforms are a minimal level of safety they are about to invest 10.000 engineers in video games, and I can’t imagine how this makes sense”.
As she added, “I’m a big proponent of corporate governance. Right now, the reality is that Mark holds 54% of the voting chairs of Facebook. He is the chairman and the CEO, and I think at a minimum the shareholders have the right to choose their CEO. So, I think it is unlikely the company will change if he remains the CEO. I hope that he can see that there is so much he could do in the world and maybe it is a chance for someone else to maybe take the reins. I think Facebook could be stronger with someone willing to focus on safety”.