Former Product Manager for Facebook, Frances Haugen, has revealed her identity in an interview with CBS on Sunday.
The whistleblower had previously leaked internal Facebook documents alleging the company knew its products were fuelling hate and harming children’s mental health.
During her interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Haugen claimed the social media giant prematurely turned off safeguards designed to combat misinformation after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in last year’s elections, stating that these actions played a part in the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January.
Haugen initially shared the leaked documents with the Wall Street Journal, which has been releasing the material intermittently over the last few weeks – often referring to them as the Facebook Files.
In her interview with 60 Minutes, Haugten said she left the company earlier this year after becoming frustrated with its practices, which she says prioritised “growth over safety”.
She also claims that changes to Facebook’s algorithm were done to create unrest and negative discourse among users. This, as well as preferential treatment given to celebrities, were among the former employee’s biggest grievances.
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Haugen said: “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.”
Another leak from the litany of documents showed that Facebook was also facing a complex lawsuit from a group of its own shareholders.
The group alleges, among other things, that Facebook’s $5bn (£3.65bn) payment to the US Federal Trade Commission to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal was so high because it was designed to protect Mark Zuckerberg from personal liability.
Nick Clegg, the company’s Vice-president of Policy and Public Affairs, said in a memo sent to Facebook employees on Friday: “Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out.
“But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarisation.”