Two years ago this fall, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen went public with thousands of bombshell documents that revealed the company knew the extent to which it harmed everyone from young users to victims of hate speech. Now, a book is coming out that reveals why she took such a drastic step against her employer in the first place.
According to Haugen, while she initially believed in the company’s mission, she soon discovered that “Facebook’s platforms eroded faith in public health, favored authoritarian demagoguery, and treated users as an exploitable resource.” As a result, she reached out to Wall Street Journal reporter Jeff Horwitz and insisted on meeting at a remote hiking trail for privacy. Soon after, she began smuggling tens of thousands of documents that painted a picture of Facebook as a company obsessed with profit above all else.
“I was surrounded by smart, conscientious people who every day discovered ways to make Facebook safer,” Haugen told Horwitz. “Unfortunately, safety and growth routinely traded off — and Facebook was unwilling to sacrifice even a fraction of percent of growth.”
To make matters worse, Haugen’s leaks also revealed that Facebook was aware of its serious safety problems without doing much to solve them.
“The broader picture that emerged was not that vile things were happening on Facebook — it was that Facebook knew,” Horwitz wrote. “It knew the extent of the problems on its platform, it knew (and usually ignored) the ways it might address them.”
Facebook is still dealing with the blowback of these revelations today, and while the company hasn’t yet faced serious regulation, it may be coming soon largely thanks to these leaks.
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