In a Senate hearing earlier this month, former Facebook project manager Frances Haugen testified against the tech giant, saying that the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, “put profits before people.” Haugen came armed with thousands of pages of confidential company documents and shared them with reporters and lawmakers. She claimed that Facebook knew that organizers of the Jan. 6 insurrection used the online platform to disseminate information, that its algorithms fuel insecurities in teenage girls, and that it has become a megaphone for hate speech.
On Oct. 25, Haugen appeared before the U.K. Parliament to give evidence. Her testimony, along with statements from representatives from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok, will inform Parliament’s Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill, which proposes regulatory oversight for tech companies.
European Union lawmakers have also invited Haugen to appear at a Nov. 8 hearing on whistleblowers in tech. EU officials are looking to draft antitrust regulations to encourage more competition, along with laws requiring more transparency regarding the algorithms that Facebook and other internet platforms use to determine which content gets promoted on its users’ feeds.
Penn Today spoke with data analytics expert Ezekiel Dixon-Róman, associate professor in the School for Social Policy & Practice, about the significance of Haugen’s evidence and what it could mean for the future.