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FEATURED: Facebook Privacy Data Report: A data scientist who worked with the company has accused the social media company of choosing profit over reducing the platform’s potential to spread misinformation and foster radicalisation #AceNewsDesk report

#AceDailyNews says that according to ABC Via AP Report: Facebook rushed to ditch misinformation safeguards after US election and fed Capitol riot, whistleblower claims: She said Facebook prematurely turned off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation and rabble rousing after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election, alleging the company’s decision contributed to the deadly January 6 invasion of the US Capitol.

Frances Haugen in a TV interview.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked documents about the company and has now spoken publicly.(Supplied: 60 Minutes)

A data scientist who worked with Facebook has accused the social media company of choosing profit over reducing the platform’s potential to spread misinformation and foster radicalisation.

In an interview with the US version of 60 Minutes, Frances Haugen revealed herself as the person who anonymously filed complaints with US law enforcement officials, alleging the company’s own research showed how it magnified hate and misinformation.

Ms Haugen, who worked at Google and Pinterest before joining Facebook in 2019, said she had asked to work in an area of the company that fought misinformation because she had lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.

“Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety,” she said.

Ms Haugen, who will testify before US Congress this week, said she hoped her activism would make the government more strictly regulate Facebook’s activities.

After the election, the company dissolved a unit on civic integrity where she had been working, which Ms Haugen said was the moment she realised “I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous”.

Smoke in the Capitol
Ms Haugen said Facebook’s choices contributed to the US Capitol riot.(AP: Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Ms Haugen said a 2018 change to Facebook’s content flow favoured hateful content.

She said despite the enmity that the new algorithms were feeding, Facebook found they helped keep people coming back — a pattern that helped the social media giant sell more of the digital ads that generate most of its advertising.

Facebook’s annual revenue has more than doubled from $US56 billion ($77 billion) in 2018 to a projected $US119 billion this year, based on the estimates of analysts surveyed by financial data company FactSet.

Facebook hits back at claims

Even before the full interview was released in the US, a top Facebook executive had derided the Ms Haugen allegations as “misleading”.

“Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice-president of policy and public affairs, wrote to Facebook employees in a memo sent on Friday.

Facebook Vice President Nick Clegg
Facebook vice-president Nick Clegg has rejected Ms Haugen’s allegations.(Facebook Brussels)

“But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”

The 60 Minutes interview intensifies the spotlight already glaring on Facebook as politicians and regulators around the world scrutinise the social networking’s immense power to shape opinions and its polarising effects on society.

The backlash has been intensifying since mid-September, when The Wall Street Journal published an exposé based on leaks from Ms Haugen that revealed Facebook’s internal research.

It concluded the social network’s attention-seeking algorithms had helped foster political dissent and contributed to mental health and emotional problems among teenagers, especially girls.

US capitol wall
Ms Haugen alleged Facebook rushed to switch of misinformation safeguards after the US election.(AP: Jose Luis Magana)

Although Facebook said the newspaper had cherrypicked the most damaging information in the internal documents to cast the company in the worst possible light, the revelations prompted an indefinite delay in the rollout of a children’s version of Instagram.

Mr Clegg appeared on US network CNN on Sunday in another pre-emptive attempt to soften the blow of Ms Haugen’s interview.

“Even with the most sophisticated technology, which I believe we deploy, even with the tens of thousands of people that we employ to try and maintain safety and integrity on our platform … we’re never going to be absolutely on top of this 100 per cent of the time,” he said.

US capitol flags
Rioters, fuelled by misinformation that Donald Trump won the US election, stormed the US Capitol in January.(AP: Jose Luis Magana)

He said that was because of the “instantaneous and spontaneous form of communication” on Facebook, adding: “I think we do more than any reasonable person can expect to.”

Ms Haugen, 37, is from Iowa and has a degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in business from Harvard University — the same school Facebook founder and leader Mark Zuckerberg attended.

She has filed at least eight complaints with US securities regulators alleging Facebook has violated the law by withholding information about the risks posed by its social network, according to 60 Minutes.

Facebook in turn could take legal action against her if it claims she stole confidential information from the company.

“No-one at Facebook is malevolent,” Ms Haugen said during the interview.

“But the incentives are misaligned.

“Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. People enjoy engaging with things that elicit an emotional reaction. And the more anger that they get exposed to, the more they interact and the more they consume.”

AP/ABC/

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Oct.05: 2021:

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