Whistleblower Francis Hogan still believes in Silicon Valley.

In these jobs after Google and before Facebook, did your perception of tech companies go bad?

I still feel very positive about most Silicon Valley tech companies. I don’t think there is any hereditary rot or anything like that. I believe that transparency is needed in any power, any platform that has a lot of power. And then I think we need a slightly different relationship with them.

By 2019, Facebook was already a victim of scandals and there was a lot of public deviance. Yet you joined this tainted company.

In December 2018, a recruiter contacted me. I said I would only work on citizen misinformation. I think we need a lot of people working inside Facebook to solve Facebook problems. I encourage people to work on Facebook.

hold on. Even after removing all these harmful documents, are you still encouraging people to join Facebook?

People ask if you can be an honest person and work on Facebook. If anything, Facebook is a flat enough organization that if a lot of people come there to fix it, I think it will have a really positive effect.

Yet you are gone.

I did because I could no longer live and continue living in Puerto Rico. [where I moved for health reasons]. I still live with severe pain every day, because I was paralyzed below my knees. Even coming back to the Bay Area right now is surprisingly difficult for me because it’s cold and humid here, and it’s really painful every day that I’m here. And so I had to choose a place where I was more comfortable or working on Facebook.

Wait – if Facebook had told you you could work in Puerto Rico, would you still be working there? And none of that would have happened?

At some point, I still had to go. At some point, you need to start a conversation. But I don’t think I would have given up then.

So when they told you that you can’t work in Puerto Rico, you made this important decision to take these documents with you. Why do you think it’s up to you to trigger this conversation?

I didn’t believe they could solve their problems on their own. The reality of any organization’s design is that if you really want to make a difference, you have to have a large number of people working to solve a problem. On Facebook I was in a pod of about seven or eight product managers and program managers. Within six weeks, the whole pod was released. Most of them were actually citizens of integrity. I don’t think I was the only one who felt that Facebook had abandoned its mission or was not taking it seriously.

I am not going to turn away from anyone in need. I volunteer as a Ranger at Burning Man because I believe people can help and change. I don’t believe that people are ashamed and change. I knew there were problems before I joined Facebook and I will live with some of its personal consequences because I had a friend who was a radical. But when I got there, I only thought about misinformation in the context of the United States. I never thought of it in the context of the most delicate places in the world. But even within two weeks of joining, I was like, “Oh, my goodness, it’s worse than I thought it was going to be.” And so I think that sometime in 2020, it’s starting to dawn on me how many lives are on the line.


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