Facebook critics love whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leaks but hate her political ideas


Facebook critics have a problem with Frances Haugen: Many love that the whistleblower leaked a trove of documents exposing many of the tech giant’s worst problems – but hate her ideas on how to fix them.

Haugen has repeatedly insisted that the dismantling of Meta Platforms – the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and which changed its name from Facebook last month amid a torrent of bad press – will not solve the problems she helped uncover. These include Instagram’s toxic effects on adolescent mental health and the company’s struggles to crack down on human trafficking.

Instead, Haugen has insisted in interviews and congressional testimony that the company’s woes are primarily the result of poor leadership under the leadership of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has deployed algorithms that run his business. social networking apps to encourage engagement at all costs.

“These systems will continue to exist and be dangerous even if they are broken,” Haugen told Congress in October.

Comments like this have left a bad taste in the mouths of many Meta critics, who initially hailed the Haugen leaks as a breakthrough as they seek to hold Facebook accountable for its increasingly outsized power.

“She handed over the documents – great,” Mike Davis, head of the conservative anti-Big Tech group, Internet Accountability Project, told The Post. “Thank you for your service. Now go away.”

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook changed its name to Meta in October amid a torrent of bad press.
Getty Images

“She’s not an expert on politics, especially not on antitrust,” said Davis, who previously worked for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and supports a list of House antitrust bills, including one. that could shatter Meta, Google and other big tech companies.

Instead of chopping the company into chunks, Haugen told lawmakers the government should leave Meta whole and create a new regulator who would be able to demand company data and force changes to its algorithms.

“There has to be a regulatory home where someone like me could take a tour of duty after working in a place like this,” Haugen said.

Haugen doubled down on the idea in an interview with Vogue on Tuesday, saying calls to break up the company are “so reductive” and could even violate the First Amendment.

“At this point we will get the change if, for example, we have 18-year-olds having dance parties in front of Mark Zuckerberg’s house,” Haugen added in the interview, which was accompanied by a photoshoot. .

Frances Haugen testifies
“Thank you for your service. Now go,” said Mike Davis of the Internet Accountability Project curator of Frances Haugen.

But Haugen’s belief that Meta’s damage does not inherently come from its size but rather from its leadership and lack of oversight is wrong, according to Matt Stoller, an antitrust expert and former adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT ).

“The documents were useful but it is irrelevant,” Stoller told the Post, adding that Haugen “really has no understanding of the central problem.”

“She basically agrees with Mark Zuckerberg,” he added. “She wants Mark Zuckerberg to be nicer.”

A prominent Republican lobbyist also criticized Haugen, saying opening up Facebook to more competition would help solve problems, including Instagram’s negative effects on teens.

“Haugen and his largely Democratic supporters are looking for the wrong solution,” the lobbyist told The Post.

“We don’t need a super speech regulator,” the lobbyist added. “We have to solve the problem of market power. “

facebook logo
Facebook could be forced to sell assets like Instagram and WhatsApp if its toughest critics succeed.

Meanwhile, the influential digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation has sought to thread the needle by using Haugen’s testimony to support its arguments for disbanding the company without acknowledging that it opposes the idea.

“Facebook’s failed system is fueled by a growth-at-any-cost model, as some of the testimony Haugen delivered to Congress indicates,” the group wrote in November. “In other words, Facebook’s wickedness is inextricably linked with its greatness.”

“Requiring Facebook to divest itself of Instagram, WhatsApp and maybe other acquisitions and limiting future corporate mergers and acquisitions would go a long way in solving some of the company’s problems and inject competition into a market. area where it has been stifled for many years. now, ”added the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Francoise Haugen
“These systems will continue to exist and be dangerous even if they are broken,” Haugen told Congress in October.
Getty Images

Meta and Bill Burton, a former Obama administration communications staff member who represents Haugen, did not respond to requests for comment.

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