Who is Frances Haugen, the engineer who wants to “save” Facebook | Technology

The 37-year-old, who worked with Mark Zuckerberg’s civil integrity team, collected thousands of internal documents before leaving the company in May.

Former leader tells US Senate that Facebook weakens democracy and threatens children

The information, leaked to the Wall Street Journal, alarmed many parliamentarians, who quickly organized a hearing on the protection of minors on the Internet.

Haugen came out of anonymity (3) last Sunday, during his appearance on the American television program “60 minutes”, on CBS. On Tuesday, he delivered scathing testimony to parliamentarians.

She said she saw a close friend get lost in conspiracy theories. “It’s one thing to study misinformation, it’s another to lose someone to it,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

She was hired by Facebook in 2019 hoping to help the company solve a number of problems. She says she is increasingly concerned about the decisions made by the company.

Frances Haugen, former Facebook product manager — Photo: Drew Angerer/Pool

Haugen, an information engineer who describes himself as an algorithm expert, worked at several tech giants before joining Facebook: Google, dating app Hinge, business referral page Yelp and network Pinterest.

On her Twitter account, which she has just created, Haugen describes herself as a “Public Social Media Monitoring Activist”. His first words on the platform: “Together, we can create social networks that bring out the best in us. »

Haugen, originally from Iowa, tells on her blog that during her childhood, with her parents and her teachers, she participated in the presidential primaries, which “created a strong sense of pride in democracy and the importance of citizen participation”.

She has volunteered several times at the Burning Man festival – a seven-day gathering where people share, give or barter, promote “decommodification” and care for the environment, echoing the spirit of hippies and 1960s counterculture, which took place in the Nevada desert every year before the pandemic – to explain the rules of the event to participants and help them resolve conflicts.

On May 17, shortly before 7 p.m., she logged out of Facebook’s internal network for the last time, she told the Wall Street Journal.

As if to justify himself, he left one last trace: “I don’t hate Facebook,” he wrote. “I like Facebook. I want to save him. »

She collected documents on Facebook until the last minute before leaving, fearing that she would be caught in the act, while at the same time contacting an NGO specializing in helping those who decide to divulge information.

what’s going on inside?

During the interview with CBS News, Haugen accused Facebook of “putting profit before safety” and said he “acted to encourage change at the social media giant, not to provoke anger”.

To monetize ads, she explains, the social network needs to make sure its members stay on the platform as long as possible. And that’s why hateful content and conflicting sources get more attention.

Facebook created teams to fight misinformation ahead of the last US presidential election and changed its algorithms to reduce the spread of misinformation.

But the team, which was trying to manage the risks that certain users or content could generate at the time of the election, was dismantled shortly after the November 2020 US election.

Less than two months later, on January 6, Congress was invaded by a crowd of supporters of Donald Trump, who did not recognize the victory of his successor Joe Biden in the polls.

It was at this point that Frances Haugen began to doubt the group’s willingness to devote adequate resources to protecting its members.. Because Facebook, she assured, favors its advantages.

In March, he moved to Puerto Rico hoping to continue working remotely, but the staff team told him that was not possible. She therefore decided to resign, explained to the Wall Street Journal, and then disclosed documents she had collected.

Facebook has spoken out against the outcry over its practices and their impact, but this is just the latest in a series of crises affecting one of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

“To suggest that we promote harmful content and do nothing about it is simply not true,” Facebook said. g1 last Monday (4).

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