Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, will appear in Parliament on October 25th before the Online Safety Bill committee.
She will give evidence on what she claims are the harmful effects the company’s social media platforms have on their users and society at large, and how the company is not taking action to prevent these.
The Online Safety Bill committee is investigating the means by which social media companies should protect its users. Haugen’s testimony will help the committee shape their bill ahead of submitting it to Parliament for approval in 2022.
According to Committee Chair Damian Collins MP: “Frances Haugen’s evidence has so far strengthened the case for an independent regulator with the power to audit and inspect the big tech companies.
“Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg have complained that she has only presented a partial view of the company, whereas they want to stop any insights into how the company manages harmful content to get into the public domain, unless they have personally approved them.
“There needs to be greater transparency on the decisions companies like Facebook take when they trade off user safety for user engagement. We look forward to discussing these issues with Frances Haugen.”
Haugen had previously leaked tens of thousands of pages of Facebook internal documents that claimed the company knew its products were fuelling hate and harming children’s mental health.
She later revealed her identity when she appeared on US news channel CBS’s 60 Minutes program. In her interview, she said that the social media giant turned off certain safeguards, and that this played a part in the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January.
She also warned that the company prioritised “growth over safety,” driving her to leave the company earlier this year.
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Haugen was later called to testify before the US Senate, where she called upon the government to act against Facebook.
She warned that “Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” and that the company fails to take action to remedy these, despite knowing how to do so.
Her appearance before Parliament will be the first time she gives public evidence in Europe regarding her experiences at the company and her ideas to regulate social media.
Facebook has denied the allegations. In a post to the company’s employees, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives.
“Many of the claims don’t make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place?”
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