In just a few days, Facebook whistleblower Frances Hogan has made a household name. After months of anonymously passing internal Facebook documents to The Wall Street JournalHaugen revealed herself to the world on Sunday when she appeared in 60 Minutes.
Haugen, 37, was hired at Facebook in 2019 to be the lead product manager for the civilian disinformation team. Before leaving in May, she copied thousands of documents to expose what the company knew about the damage it was causing. In 60 Minutes, Scott Bailey tells the interviewer why she feels like moving forward.
“I’ve seen a bunch of social networks, and it’s been much worse on Facebook than I’ve seen before,” she said. “Facebook, time and time again, has shown that it chooses profit over safety.”
Although everyone knows her name by now, Haugen had humble beginnings, growing up the daughter of two professors near Iowa City. According to her website,Haugen’s parents brought her to the caucuses in Iowa, “instilling a strong sense of pride in democracy and a responsibility for civic engagement.”
But what drove her to Facebook? Here are some important things to know about Detective Frances Hogan:
1. She got her degrees from the Boston area
After graduating from high school in Iowa, Haugen headed east to attend Olin College of Engineering in Needham. She was a member of the first graduating class in 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, according to her LinkedIn profile. While there, she worked for student government, the yearbook committee, and as a teaching assistant. A former member of the high school debate team, she volunteered as an assistant debate coach for the debate team at Needham High School throughout her undergraduate years.
Debbie Chachra, one of Hogan’s former engineering professors, Tell Boston Globe Haugen was distinguished by her intelligence, enthusiasm and commitment to others.
“Not only was she brilliant as most of our students were and still is, she was passionate and committed…she was the student who always raised her hand,” Shashra said.
according to GlobeHaugen also seemed to embrace the sporting culture of Boston. She was interviewed for a 2003 story about Red Sox fans’ reactions to the team’s loss to the Yankees.
“I’m definitely hooked,” Haugen, who was 19 at the time, told Globe. “It started in Sox culture.”
A few years later, I headed to Harvard Business School and graduated with a master’s degree in public administration in 2011.
2. She has a long career working with technology giants
Haugen’s first postgraduate job was at Google — as an associate project manager, according to her LinkedIn site — and that largely set the pace for her career. There, she worked as a product manager and software engineer in multiple areas before starting as a project manager at Yelp in 2015.
According to her LinkedIn site, she was the technical co-founder of dating app Hinge, and co-founded Secret Agent Cupid – Introduction to Hinge – in 2010, before it came to market.
After a year at Yelp, Haugen went to Pinterest for a year and a half, before being recruited to start at Facebook in June 2019.
On its website, Haugen writes that during her time there, she has become “increasingly disturbed” by the choices the company has made to prioritize profits over public safety and endanger lives.
She calls herself an “advocate for public censorship on social media,” and believes that the problems we face today with social media are solvable.
“We can have social media that brings out the best in humanity,” she wrote on her website.
3. She testifies before Congress on Tuesday
Explosive documents shared by Haugen The Wall Street Journal Annoyed many lawmakers, she was called to Testifying before the US Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The hearing, hosted by Subcommittee Chair Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), is called “Protecting Children Online: Testimony from a Facebook Informant.” Coming in less than a week Antigone Davis, Facebook’s chief safety officer, appears before Congress.
“Recent investigations in the Wall Street Journal have revealed troubling insights into how Instagram affects teens, how it treats children on the platform, and other consumer protection issues related to Facebook,” the hearing reads. “The hearing will provide an opportunity for the Facebook whistleblower to discuss their views and experiences with the subcommittee, including how to update children’s privacy regulations and other laws to protect online consumers.”