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Facebook ‘whistleblower’ Haugen felt betrayed by Facebook after it dissolved Civic Integrity division: Senate hearing

Lawyers who represented Trump-Ukraine phone call ‘whistleblower’ have set up a $100,000 GoFundMe for their client, Frances Haugen

Frances Haugen
Frances Haugen
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Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen tells Congress “it really felt like a betrayal” when Facebook dissolved its Civic Integrity team, and that was when she sought outside help.

Frances Haugen , facebook whistleblower
Frances Haugen

“I think the moment which I realized we need to get help from the outside […] was when Civic Integrity was dissolved following the 2020 election” — Frances Haugen

Today, “Facebook whistleblower” Haugen testified before Congress where she explained her motives for divulging the company’s internal research.

After Facebook dissolved its Civic Integrity division following the 2020 US presidential election, Haugen told Congress she felt betrayed.

“It really felt like a betrayal of the promises that Facebook had made to people who had sacrificed a great deal to keep the election safe by basically dissolving our community” — France Haugen

“I think the moment which I realized we need to get help from the outside — that the only way these problems will be solved is by solving them together and not solving them alone, was when Civic Integrity was dissolved following the 2020 election,” said Haugen.

“It really felt like a betrayal of the promises that Facebook had made to people who had sacrificed a great deal to keep the election safe by basically dissolving our community and integrating it into just other parts of the company,” she added.

Haugen began her work in Facebook’s Civic Integrity division in 2019 and remained through the 2020 US Presidential election, during which time Facebook suppressed the NY Post “smoking gun” story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

She told 60 Minutes on Sunday that she agreed to take the job at Facebook “only if she could work against misinformation because she had lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.”

Since going public, Whistleblower Aid has setup a $100,000 GoFundMe campaign in support its client, Haugen.

Whistleblower Aid lists founding legal partner Mark Zaid and lawyer Andrew Bakaj among its team members.

Both Zaid and Bakaj represented the so-called intelligence “whistleblower” who complained about ex-President Donald Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, leading to an impeachment.

“Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children” — Frances Haugen

Feeling betrayed by Facebook, Haugen has since gone public, and today she told Congress that the social media giant repeatedly misled the public about its research on children’s health and that Facebook’s internal research must be regularly made public.

“The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages,” Haugen testified.

“I believe it is vitally important for our democracy that we establish mechanisms where Facebook’s internal research must be disclosed to the public on a regular basis” — Frances Haugen

The former Facebook insider added that “Facebook’s internal research must be disclosed to the public on a regular basis” because the big tech giant won’t make any changes on its own as it prioritizes “astronomical profits before people.”

In her opening statement, Haugen expressed that she believed Facebook could still be a platform for good, but that it would require company transparency and independent oversight.

“I believe it is vitally important for our democracy that we establish mechanisms where Facebook’s internal research must be disclosed to the public on a regular basis, and that we need to have privacy-sensitive data sets that allow independent researchers to confirm whether or not Facebook’s marketing messages are actually true,” Haugen recommended.

“[Facebook] intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the US government, and from governments around the world” — Frances Haugen

Haugen testified today that she came to realize a “devastating truth” while at Facebook — that the company intentionally hides vital information from the public, including governments.

“During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth — almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook,” she said.

“The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the US government, and from governments around the world.”

Haugen added, “I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of the truth.”

“I would immediately establish a policy of how to share information and research from inside the company with appropriate oversight bodies like Congress” — Frances Haugen

When asked what changes she would immediately institute if she were in Mark Zuckerberg’s place as CEO and Chair, Haugen listed four:

  1. “I would immediately establish a policy of how to share information and research from inside the company with appropriate oversight bodies like Congress.”
  2. “I would give proposed legislation to Congress saying, ‘Here’s what an effective oversight agency would look like.'”
  3. “I would actively engage with academics to make sure that people who are confirming ‘are Facebook’s marketing messages true’ have the information they need to confirm these things.”
  4. “And I would immediately implement the quote ‘soft interventions’ that were identified to protect the 2020 election, so that’s things like requiring someone to click on a link before re-sharing it, because other companies like Twitter have found that that significantly reduces misinformation. No one is censored by being forced to click on a link before re-sharing it.”

“I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy” — Frances Haugen

Earlier in the hearing, Haugen explained, “I joined Facebook because I think Facebook has the potential to bring out the best in us, but I am here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy.

“The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes as they have put their astronomical profits before people.”

“Yesterday, we saw Facebook get taken off the internet. I don’t know why it went down, but I know that for more than five hours Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies” — Frances Haugen

Regarding Monday’s social media blackout, the former Facebook employee said she didn’t know why Facebook and all its apps went offline for several hours, but for a brief moment the platform wasn’t used to “make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.”

“Yesterday, we saw Facebook get taken off the internet,” she said, adding, “I don’t know why it went down, but I know that for more than five hours Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.

“It also means that millions of small businesses weren’t able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren’t joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world.

“I believe in the potential of Facebook. We can have social media we enjoy, that connects us, without tearing apart our democracy, putting our children in danger, and sowing ethnic violence around the world.”

“I would be sincerely surprised if they do not continue working on Instagram Kids” — Frances Haugen

When asked if she believed Facebook would continue to develop Instagram Kids, Haugen remarked:

“I would be sincerely surprised if they do not continue working on Instagram Kids, and I would be amazed if a year from now we don’t have this conversation again.

“Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow, they have to find users.

“They have to make sure that next generation is just as engaged with Instagram as the current one, and the way they’ll do that is by making sure that children establish habits before they have good self-regulation.”

Haugen testified that all-in-all, “Left alone, Facebook will continue to make choices that go against the common good — our common good” because the social media giant puts profits over people.

Her written testimony can be found here.


Update October 5, 2021: Following the hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a 16-paragraph note he wrote to everyone at his company on Facebook refuting Haugen’s claims, stating, “At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true.”

The Facebook CEO said he “found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people,” and added, “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content.”


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1 Comment

  1. “One of the things that Facebook might allege is that she (Frances Haugen) stole company documents.” – Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes, CBS News (an observation made to John Tye, of Whistleblower Aid… and Counsel to Frances Haugen)
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    “The ‘Dodd-Frank Act’… passed over ten years ago at this point… created an Office of the Whistleblower inside the SEC. And one of the provisions of that law says, that no company can prohibit its employees from communicating with the SEC and sharing internal corporate documents with the SEC.” – John Tye, of Whistleblower Aid… and Counsel to Frances Haugen (a reply to an observation made by Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes, at CBS News)
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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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    I, at least… and as a connoisseur of the TRUE “Social” Media… amn’t impressed– and e.g.– with the FAUXIAL MEDIA TOOL known as “TWITTER”!… whose creators would have us believe that it’s a “SOCIALLY ORGANIC” creation by our “organic society (i.e., our ‘unbranded society’!… and our ‘ORGANIC SOCIETY’ being synonymous with our “metexistential society” reflective of our NGO+NPO and webizen communities, corespectively… and that/ which I-S-N-‘-T ACTING IN THE G-U-I-S-E of being ‘organic’!)”!
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    “TWITTER” is a “KERDOS MEDIA TOOL”! That is to say, it is a “FOR-PROFIT MEDIA TOOL”, P-R-E-T-E-N-D-I-N-G to be a SOCIALLY FASHIONED Media tool!… and one, that– the KERDOS would have us believe!– we’re all supposed to be paying attention to!
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    TWITTER isn’t given its tag for nothing! But, I can’t quite figure out– so far– why such Twitter transactions are called “TWEETS”! I guess the proper ascription for those who implement said transactions may be viewed– by some– as somewhat pejorative, and less than kind!… and so and thus, is left unexpressed! Nevertheless, God give Twitter’s hapless unthinking souls the wisdom to leave the “TWITTER RAT PACK”!
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    I’ve NO INTENTION of using this FAUXIAL MEDIA TOOL, N-O-R C-A-T-E-R-I-N-G T-O I-T-S I-N-O-R-G-A-N-I-C S-U-B-S-C-R-I-B-E-R-S!… and whether these subscribers be aware of its DYSfunctionality or not! That is to say, until: a) it’s in the “CONTROL” of our “ORGANIC COMMUNITIES”; b) it adheres to ALL Human ICT Rights; c) it’s COST-FREE (given, the stated “ESSENTIAL NATURE” of its technoma!… and so, should be available to a poor person on a rooftop during a storm, and not just to one who subscribes to its “clique services”– and at a hefty price!); d) until it’s programmed with Free and Open Source Software/ FOSSware (i.e., “Free” as in “Freedom”… see, Richard Stallman of the FSF); e) it is on a hardware device utilizing Free and Open Source Hardware/ FOSHware (ditto, re d]!); and, f), it’s given a more “user-friendly” tag!
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    Simply put, those attempting to legitimize the use of Twitter are the same as those who would sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, pet rocks to uptown preteens, monetize the collection of rainwater in places like South America and open up Oxygen Bars in hapless upscale urban communities!
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    I’m also not impressed with “Facebook”… whose creators would also have us believe that it’s a “SOCIALLY ORGANIC” creation by our “ORGANIC SOCIETY”! “Facebook”, is– as well!– a “KERDOS MEDIA TOOL (i.e., a ‘FOR-PROFIT MEDIA TOOL’, P-R-E-T-E-N-D-I-N-G to be a ‘SOCIALLY CREATED MEDIA TOOL’)”!
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    I’ve lost track of the number of websites I have gone into wherein the Facebook plugin was being used, and there was either one lone Comment Posted, or there was none whatsoever! It got to the point, that if I saw the Facebook plugin’s face icon (the image of a wannabe Comment Logger with unkempt hair!… and whether facing forward or backward, I can’t be certain!), I would leave the website! And of recent, I have been making a special effort to make known my rationale for my disinterest in this Plugin to as many “Contact windows” as I can… and, why sites should reconsider their respective approach to Blog Comment Hosting/ Comment Log Hosting/ Clog Hosting!
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    I don’t like, or use Facebook!… and none of the people I hang with use Facebook! And, for me, that’s either an indication that I’m hanging with very highly crit(ic) Facebook crowds, or, that Facebook is not all that its hype suggests!
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    Apart from its POOR RECORD on “Human ICT Rights”, it is another case in point of a Website Comment Hosting Service that/ which obliges hurdles in order to participate in said “Public Discussions”, re “Publicly Posted” stories! And, I ask myself:… “REALLY?… for what reason?”
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    In light of the ABUNDANT News Stories concerning Facebook’s P-O-O-R RECORD on Human ICT Rights, why would I– SHOULD I!– share with an “element” of “Comment Loggers/ Cloggers”, who have: a) forsaken their CONSCIENABLE FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION; b) forsaken Facebook’s accountability re Human ICT Rights (and, compromising, potentially, anonymity as a consequence); and c), individually and collectively entertained a spirit of utter indifference to the very means these have chosen to communicate their respective messages? In other words… and to paraphrase the late Aldous Huxley!… “THE ‘MEANS’ THESE HAVE CHOSEN HAVE DETERMINED THE VERY NATURE OF THE ‘ENDS’ THESE HAVE PURSUED AND PRODUCED (I.E., THEIR RESPECTIVE MESSAGES!)!” And to paraphrase the late Marshall McLuhan (though, giving deference to the idioms of Aldous Huxley… see Huxley’s work, Ends and Means!):… “THE MEDIUM (THE MEANS!) HAS BECOME THE MESSAGE (THE ENDS!)!”
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    Thanks!… but!… NO THANKS! Whether it is CLOGGER STUPIDITY, or CALLOUS CLOGGERS, either way, their “MEANS” of communication is a direct and indirect “T-A-I-N-T-E-D C-O-M-M-E-N-T” on the “ENDS” of their respective communications! And so and thus, MY participation in the Plugin, would TAINT M-Y ENDS/ message!… and, regardless of the story, or stories to be discussed! In other words, using Facebook (and, in particular, its plugin!)… and regardless of any hosted blogs!… IS A NON-STARTER!… A-N-D, F-O-R A-N-Y-O-N-E W-I-T-H A C-O-N-S-C-I-E-N-C-E!
    .
    And despite the rare occasions wherein Facebook hosted sites may entertain dozens (or more) of Cloggers’ Clogs, MY website association/ participation– at least!– is not based upon supporting some “ARTIFICIALLY CREATED MASS HYSTERIA”!… and joining some “VIRTUAL CYBER CLUB LINEUPS” at the latest, “VIRTUAL CYBER CLUB OF THE WEEK”!
    .
    Signing in, on, or up, logging in, on, or up, becoming a member, registering, getting an account, securing a password, providing an email address, paying (and indeed, paying!), and otherwise obtaining a “cyber mark of the beast (and, in order to PUBLICLY COMMENT on stories in said ‘PUBLIC SITES’!)”, is not only SOO PASSE, such site practices breach the spirit of the words in the UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, by David Kaye… AND!… BREACH THE COMMON SENSE THAT C-O-N-S-C-I-E-N-A-B-L-E S-O-U-L-S BRING TO PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS! And further… and leaving aside, for the moment, the current reporting on Facebook’s complicity in the release of millions of netizens’ personal records to TRUMPIANS, which have used same– it’s said– to compromise
    the 2016 U.S. Federal Election(s) Process (and, who may do so again in the not too distant future!)!… numerous sites have made comment on the displaying by Facebook of those involved in the commission of murder, and in acts of suicide! And, therefore, such allowances by Facebook should give “reflective website owners” “reflective pause”, re their continued use of this Blog Comment Hosting “Service”, and Plugin! And simply scripted, ZUCKERBERG SHOULD NOT RECEIVE ANOTHER DIME FROM ANOTHER CLICK!
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    “CLICK MONETIZATION” is a breach of my Human Digital Rights, as a monetary reward granted a site regardless of my true intent regarding the click, can– potentially– reward a bad site for its bad content (AND SITE PRACTICES) by mere virtue of my “clicking”… and THAT violates my Freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Association, Free Speech, Freedom of the Press… AND, ET CETERA!
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    Now… one could say that the rewards afforded a website through “CLICK INTERESTS” for the traffic generated has NOTHING to do with ME (save, my clicks!)!… however, should the information promoted on a website be detrimental to the PUBLIC GOOD (and including the ads that webizens may haplessly inadvertently click onto) then we do disservice to the common good by not affording individuals their RIGHT to block a “click reward”, and in the same manner as webizens now have to block ads in general! In other words, webizens are haplessly inadvertently allowing the underwriting of bad content (and site practices) throughout the Web, because there’s no mechanism in place to keep “CLICK INTERESTS” from perverting the common good, and circumventing/ denying Human Digital Rights through their MANIPULATION OF “CLICK INTENTIONS”! And this “CLICK RIGHT MANIPULATION EFFECT (or CRIME, for short)”, is no less as egregious than the SEME reported by Dr. Robert Epstein (and, et al), or the “Search Engine Optimization Manipulation Effect!… i.e., a type of SEME operating in collusion with participating websites through “Search Engine Optimization”/ SEO (or put simply, funding some “Net insiders” to ALGORITHM[ICLY] COLLUSIVELY ARRANGE placing one’s website at the top of some search engine search result, “cyber-bird pecking order”!)!
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    MY CLICKS ARE A PART OF MY FREE EXPRESSION!… AND NO “MONETARY INTERESTS” HAVE THE RIGHT TO SUBVERT MY CLICKS INTO SUPPORT FOR BAD BEHAVIOUR THAT ISN’T SUPPORTIVE OF THE COMMON GOOD! AND SO AND THUS, FOR “MONETARY INTERESTS” TO SAY THAT MY CLICKS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME, AND WHETHER BAD WEBSITES SHOULD EXIST BY WAY OF THEIR AID (FINANCIAL OR OTHERWISE!), IS RIDICULOUS!
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    To sum up, webizens must hold every website accountable for our EVERY CLICK!… and, no website or “MONETARY INTEREST”/ “CLICK INTEREST” should be allowed to disallow our Human ICT Rights (Digital or Analog[l]… and hence, our Human Rights!), re our true “click intentions”!

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co