HomeThe Facebook whistleblower reveals himself, saying the company puts its own interests first.

The Facebook whistleblower reveals himself, saying the company puts its own interests first.

Whistleblower Francis Hagen, who leaked Facebook’s internal documents to the Wall Street Journal.

60 minutes

The man who revealed Facebook’s internal research to the Wall Street Journal that served as the basis for a series of stories about the damage caused by the social networking platform and how to mitigate the damage. Efforts showed up at 60 minutes on Sunday. He is a former Facebook algorithmic product manager named Francis Hogan.

Hagen, who has worked at Facebook for almost two years, spent 60 minutes explaining what was good for the company and what was good for the public. What

“Facebook has repeatedly chosen optimization for its own interests, such as making more money,” he told 60-minute Scott Pele in an interview.

The 37-year-old data scientist said, “I knew what my future would be like if I stayed inside Facebook, which one person after another dealt with inside Facebook and fell to the ground. ”

The Wall Street Journal’s series of stories, among other things, that the company ignored research into the negative effects of Instagram on teenage girls and changed the algorithm to improve interaction on the platform I “got angry”.

Hogan explained how the algorithm has “thousands of options” that can show you in your feed based on what you’ve been doing in the past.

“One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking up this content today is – improving engagement, or responsive content,” he said. “But his own research shows that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, is much easier to provoke people than other emotions.”

During last year’s election, Hagen said he was assigned to Facebook’s Civic Integrity Project, which worked to identify and mitigate election threats, including misinformation. He said the company was aware of the risks associated with the 2020 election, but that the company’s response was temporary. He said that the employees were informed that the unit was being dissolved as the election was over without any fuss.

“Go ahead for a few months, we have a revolt,” he said. “And when they got rid of Civic Integrity, that was the moment I was there. ‘

“And as soon as the election is over, they turn it back or they change the settings as before, so that security is a priority,” he said. “And it really feels like a betrayal of democracy for me.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hagen’s appearance at 60 minutes. However, the New York Times reported over the weekend that Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of policy and global affairs, sent employees a 1,500-word memo before the news magazine section.

“Social media has had a huge impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often the place where most of this debate takes place,” he wrote. “But the evidence that exists does not support the notion that Facebook or social media in general is the root cause of polarization.”

Hagen’s appearance at 60 minutes came as a Senate subcommittee heard about the harmful effects of Facebook and Instagram on mental health, including among young people. After the Wall Street Journal published a series of stories about the company’s knowledge of the platform’s issues, US lawmakers are seeking more answers from the social media giant until it has reduced them publicly. One of the three teenage girls reported that Instagram made her physical problems worse, according to a 2019 presentation to the journal.

During the hearing, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, pushed the news outlet back on its internal research feature. “I want to make it clear that this investigation is not bombing,” Davis said. “It’s not research.”

Facebook-owned Instagram is blocking the development of a baby version of the app. The social network also released some of its internal research and said it was looking at ways to release more data.

Davis’ remarks did not appear to please lawmakers who are considering further hearings. Hagen is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection on Tuesday. During the 60-minute interview, he suggested that the federal government should enforce the rules and regulations.

He said that Facebook has shown that they cannot work independently. “Facebook has repeatedly shown that it chooses profits over security. It is subsidizing, it is paying its profits with its security.”

CNET’s Quinny Wong and Andrew Morris contributed to this report.

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