Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Whistleblower reveals Facebook prioritises profit over curbing hate speech

Published on: 4 October, 2021

On Sunday a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, accused Facebook of repeatedly prioritising profit over curbing hate speech and misinformation.

Haugen appeared on the program ’60 Minutes’ on CBS on Sunday and revealed that she was the whistleblower who provided tens of thousands of documents underpinning a Wall Street Journal investigation on the harm Instagram causes to teenage girls. Haugen worked as a product manager on the civic misinformation team at Facebook.

The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles showing that Facebook contributed to increased polarisation online by for example making changes to content algorithm and failing to take steps to reduce vaccine hesitancy.

According to Haugen Facebook has lied to the public about the progress it has made on curbing hate speech.

Haugen said that Facebook knows its platforms are used to spread hate, misinformation and violence, and that the company has tried to hide that evidence.

During the ’60 minutes’ interview Haugen said: ‘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 optimize for its own interests, like making more money.’

Haugen further said that Facebook was used to help organize the Capitol riot on 6 January.


A screengrab of Frances Haugen during her '60 minutes' interview

Haugen told ’60 Minutes’: ‘No one at Facebook is malevolent.’ She added that  Mark Zuckerberg ‘has never set out to make a hateful platform.’ But, she said, the effects of the company’s choices have been grave.

Haugen is scheduled to testify before the US Congress on Tuesday.

The founder of the NGO Whistleblower Aid, John Tye, said Haugen has also spoken with lawmakers in Europe and is scheduled to appear before the British parliament later this month, in the hope of encouraging regulatory action.