Facebook Whistleblower Live Updates: Frances Haugen Notes 'Conflicts of Interests' Between Facebook Teams

Live Updates

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in front of a committee of British MPs and Lords today ahead of major new laws to tackle online abuse.

The social media giant's former product manager launch a fresh attack on CEO Mark Zuckerberg over his alleged complacency on online hate, following a series of bombshell media interviews and testimony before a Senate committee. Zuckerberg has dismissed recent criticism as "deeply illogical."

"I came forward now because now is the time to act," Haugen said. "The failures of Facebook are making it harder to act."

Haugen said Facebook cis "unquestionably" making hate speech online worse as groups push people towards extreme content. She said the company was "negligent" in its inability to accept the consequences of its actions.

The parliamentary committee is charged with examing the British government's "Online Harms Bill" which aims to shift more responsibility onto social media firms for harmful content on their platforms - and punishing them if they fail to tackle it.

The Facebook Oversight Board released a statement calling for a "full, independent, outside investigation into Facebook" following the publication of internal Facebook documents and Haugen's testimony.

"No criminal should appoint its own judge and jury, as Facebook has done with its Oversight Board," the statement said.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Photos from Frances Haugen's testimony

The British Parliament shares images from Frances Haugen's testimony before the Online Safety Committee Monday.

Frances Haugen gives evidence before @OnlineSafetyCom with Chair and RFOB Board Member @DamianCollins

📸 UK Parliament 2021 / Annabel Moeller pic.twitter.com/4bHvQib2tI

— The Real Facebook Oversight Board (@FBoversight) October 25, 2021

Facebook's lack of language diversity allowed hate to spread in the Middle East, documents reveal

Facebook's lack of linguistic diversity on colloquial Arab dialects allowed hate speech to spread in the Middle East, according to documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen.

In Haugen's files, documents exposed how hate speech and terrorist content is perpetuated in the Middle East because the company does not have enough moderators who speak local languages and understand cultural nuance.

According to one document, Facebook over-relies on artificial-intelligence filters that make mistakes, leading to "a lot of false positives and a media backlash."

During her testimony before a British Parliamentary committee Monday, Haugen said 76 percent of counterterrorism speech in one at-risk country was flagged as terrorist speech and removed.

According to the Associated Press, the company has tried to hire staff who spoke local dialect; however, Arabic content moderation "still has a long way to go," the company said.

FULL STORY: Facebook Knew How to Combat Hate Speech in Middle East, Did Nothing: Whistleblower

Facebook Oversight Committee calls for 'independent' investigation into Facebook

The Facebook Oversight Committee calls for a "full, independent, outside investigation of Facebook" during a "defining moment of crisis for Facebook and democracy."

In a statement, the Board says it "rejects the premise that the Facebook Oversight Board can ever be considered independent" and call for an investigation into the allegations raised in the Facebook Files, The Facebook Papers and recent SEC filings.

The Board demands policymakers in the U.S., U.K. and European Union "fast-track legislation to ensure permanent, independent oversight of Facebook."

"No criminal should appoint its own judge and jury, as Facebook has done with its Oversight Board," the statement said.

The statement says the released internal documents and the testimony from whistleblower Frances Haugen that had "laid bare the extreme harm and devastating impacts of Facebook."

It calls Facebook "an international criminal enterprise" for ignoring internal warnings and lying to regulators and its own oversight board. It also said the company is "in the thrall od right-wing extremists" and welcomes "insurrectionists, racists and disinformation artists onto their platforms under the guise of free speech.

STATEMENT: "F-DAY: Facebook Faces Day Of Reckoning, 17 News Organizations and Whistleblower Offer Devastating Evidence of Facebook’s Harms" -- RFOBhttps://t.co/FecQx05Q19

— The Real Facebook Oversight Board (@FBoversight) October 25, 2021

AI language gaps lead to spread of hate speech, Haugen says

Frances Haugen outlined the failures of artificial intelligence (AI) Facebook uses to regulate content on its platform around the world.

She said that engagement-based ranking allowed hate speech to spread on the platform and incited real-world violence in places like Ethiopia and Myanmar.

"They allow the temperature in these countries to get hotter and hotter and hotter when the pot starts boiling over, they're like, 'Oh no, we need to break the glass, we need to slow the platform down,'" she said.

According to internal documents, Facebook only removes about 5 percent of hate speech and its AI ignored warnings of the spread of hate speech due to language gaps.

Haugen said the AI system will fail and Facebook needs to slow down its platform "to a human scale" and should be forced to disclose what its integrity systems are and how well safety systems work in non-English languages.

"Ethiopia has 100 million people and speaks six languages. Facebook only supports two," she said. "If we believe in linguistic diversity, the current design of the platform is dangerous."

Haugen says there is a conflict of interests between teams at Facebook

Frances Haugen detailed the system inefficiencies with Facebook in which "the left hand is not talking to the right hand."

She said there is a conflict of interests between different departments within the company.

For example, between the safety and integrity team and the growth team.

She said there has to be better organizational oversight because teams may be "unknowingly" promoting harmful content.

Facebook chooses 'growth over safety,' Haugen said

Haugen said laws meant to regulate Facebook should set standards for risk assessments and mandate Facebook gives solutions to problems to prevent the company from continuing to mislead the public.

Right now, she said there are no "incentives forcing Facebook away from shareholder interests."

"They will choose growth over safety," she said.

Haugen added that "countless employees said we have lots of solutions that don't involve picking good and bad ideas."

"It's not about censorship," she said. "We could have a safer platform but it will cost little bits of growth."

Haugen says it 'may be impossible' to make Instagram safe for kids

Haugen said she is "deeply worried" that it "may be impossible" to make Instagram safe for children.

A British MP said there is evidence that Facebook products are changing kids' brains.

Haugen also noted how social media has an addictive quality that makes kids unhappy while using it but makes them feel that they can't leave. It also "allows bullying to follow children home."

"It's super scary to me that we are not taking a safety-by-design approach," Haugen said.

She added that unlike regulations on pharmaceutical companies, Facebook has "never proved their product is safe for kids."

Haugen calls Facebook 'negligent,' 'ignorant'

When asked if Facebook is "evil," Haugen said she "cannot see into the hearts of men."

Rather, she said Facebook is "negligent" and "ignorant."

She said Facebook is full of "overwhelmingly" good people.

"Good people embedded in a system with bad incentives are led into bad actions," she said.

She added that people "willing to look the other way" are promoted over people who are "willing to raise alarm."

Haugen said Facebook is "unwilling to acknowledge its own power" and "won't accept the consequences of its actions."

Facebook Oversight Board should 'demand greater access' to data, Haugen says

Frances Haugen said the Facebook Oversight Board should "demand greater access" to Facebook's data.

"The Oversight Board should ask the question 'why was Facebook able to lie to them in this way?'" she said.

"If Facebook can come in there and actively mislead the Oversight Board, which is what they did, I don't know what the purpose of the Oversight Board is."

Haugen says Facebook is 'unquestionably' making hate worse

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has said the tech giant is "unquestionably making hate worse."

She added that "hate and anger is the easiest way to grow on Facebook."

FULL STORY: Whistleblower Says Facebook Is 'Unquestionably Making Hate Worse'

Haugen says Facebook told employees to accept it was 'under resourced'

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said she did not have faith in the chain of command when a concern arose.

She said she "had no idea how to escalate" national security concerns she saw when she worked on counterespionage.

"Because I didn't have faith in my chain of command because they had dissolved [the Civic Integrity Team]," she said.

She said employees were told to "accept" that the company was under-resourced.

"There are no incentives, internally, to rally for help because everyone is under water," Haugen said. "Facebook's most important teams are understaffed and under-resourced.

Haugen suggests Facebook moderates large groups

Frances Haugen says Facebook groups build echo chambers that "create social norms" that promote hate and spread misinformation.

Haugen said this current system is "biased towards bad actors and biased towards people who push people to the extremes."

"Currently there's no accountability," she added.

Haugen recommends that Facebook provide its own group moderators once a group reaches a certain size.

Requiring the company to employ moderators to regulate content and the impact of large groups would increase accountability, Haugen suggested.

Frances Haugen says Facebook is 'making hate worse'

Testifying to British MPs, the whistleblower suggested that the social media platform is "fanning hate" and "pushing people to the extremes" by reinforcing their political views and exposing them to even stronger views in that direction.

She also praised Google and Twitter for being more "transparent" in how they disclose "experiments" and data about its user's habits.

Facebook whistleblower says "now is the time to act"

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told the British Parliament's Online Safety Committee that now is the time to act on regulating Facebook.

"I came forward now because now is the time to act," she said. "The failures of Facebook are making it harder to act."

Facebook employees say company is not responsive to internal criticism

A former Facebook employee says the social media company is going down an "authoritarian spiral" in the face of internal dissent and criticism.

"Facebook has been going through a bit of an authoritarian narrative spiral, where it becomes less responsive to employee criticism, to internal dissent and in some cases cracks down upon it," Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist, told the Associated Press. "And this leads to more internal dissent."

Zhang was fired from Facebook in the fall of 2020. Last year, she accused the company of ignoring fake accounts used to undermine foreign elections.

Another employee, whose name was redacted from internal documents sent to Congress, said employees feel "powerless."

"I have seen many colleagues that are extremely frustrated and angry, while at the same time, feeling powerless and [disheartened] about the current situation," the employee wrote on an internal message board after Facebook chose to leave up posts from former President Donald Trump that suggested Minneapolis protesters could be shot. "My view is, if you want to fix Facebook, do it within."

Irish senator says it would be 'useful' for whistleblower to testify to legislators

Irish Senator John McGahon has called on Frances Haugen to appear before politicians before the country passes its Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill into law.

The pre-leg scrutiny of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill has already been completed.

However, it would still be useful for Frances Haugen to appear before an Oireachtas Committee to share her experiences with Irish legislators. https://t.co/BIt0mtDOzr

— Senator John McGahon (@John_McGahon) October 25, 2021

Facebook admits it needs to 'better understand' non-Western cultures to avoid harmful moderation

The reports leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed how the company has yet to properly invest in people who understand different cultures and languages around the world, leading to a number of embarrassing decisions about which content to allow and ban on its platforms.

One example highlighted in the report is when Instagram banned #AlAqsa under rules on terrorism content despite it being used to exchange vital information about people attacked in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.

In a statement to the Associated Press, a Facebook spokesperson said that over the last two years the company "has invested in recruiting more staff with local dialect and topic expertise to bolster its review capacity around the world" but admitted it was not as strong as it could be on the issue.

We still have more work to do. ... We conduct research to better understand this complexity and identify how we can improve.

Protesters place giant Mark Zuckerberg cutout outside British parliament

SumOfUs - a non-profit advocacy group - has planted a large cardboard mocking cutout of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside the British parliament ahead of testimony from whistleblower Frances Haugen.

He is shown riding a wave of dollar bills while surrounded by a distressed-looking teenager - a reference to Facebook's alleged strategy of prioritizing profits over the wellbeing of its users.

Campaigner Flora Rebello Arduini said that younger users "don't stand a chance" against the company's algorithms.

Kids don't stand a chance against the multibillion-dollar Facebook machine, primed to feed them content that causes severe harm to mental and physical wellbeing. This industry is rotten at its core and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children. Lawmakers must urgently step in and pull the tech giants into line.

Massive Mark Zuckerberg cutout unveiled outside parliament
A giant cardboard cutout of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg riding on a wave made of dollar bills has been unveiled outside the British parliament. SumOfUs/Getty Images

Whistleblower gives UK media interviews before testimony

Frances Haugen, in an interview with the Observer newspaper yesterday, said Facebook shareholders "would look for different leadership" if they had the should.

I believe in shareholder rights and the shareholders, or shareholders minus Mark, have been asking for years for one share, one vote. And the reason for that is, I am pretty sure the shareholders would choose other leadership if they had an option.

Has Mark Zuckerberg responded to fake news criticism?

The Facebook CEO has hit back against the "idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being", suggesting it is "just not true".

The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.

FULL STORY: Mark Zuckerberg Says Claim Facebook Pushes 'Angry Content' for Profit 'Deeply Illogical'

Facebook to release quarterly earnings report

The social media firm is set to publish its earnings for the past three months this morning.

The company has kept tight-lipped about the details of the report but those following the whistleblower will be looking for any impact criticism of the company in recent months has had on earnings.

The report will be released later this morning.

British civil servants 'leaking new regulations' to former colleague who work at Facebook - reports

Parts of the British government's plans to regulate social media giants is being leaked by civil servants to former colleagues who now work at Facebook, according to a report in the Times newspaper this morning.

A senior Facebook employee recently raised an issue about possible new laws in a meeting - divulging details that only a few officials knew about at the time.

British civil servants accused of Facebook leaking
Whitehall civil servants are allegedly giving information to Facebook workers about potential regulation of social media platforms Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

'Facebook fails to act': Indian political party accuses platform of failing to tackle misinformation

The Congress party said the ruling BJP party in the country was using "fake news and hate speech" to "manipulate voters and incite violence".

It criticized Facebook, suggesting it is failing to act to tackle harmful posts.

Facebook has become a tool to spread BJP's fake news & hate speech. The platform is being used to manipulate voters & incite violence, our democracy is being put at risk. #BJPRSSfakebook pic.twitter.com/PDB8nx5Qta

— Congress (@INCIndia) October 25, 2021

What does Facebook's internal report say?

An internal report - secretly copied by whistleblower Frances Haugen - has revealed that Facebook spends 87 percent of its misinformation budget tackling misleading content in U.S. - leaving just 13 percent for the rest of the world.

It is expected to be highlighted at the hearing later today as evidence that Facebook is not adequately focusing on harmful posts outside the States.

British investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr expressed her outrage at the figures.

Today @FrancesHaugen will testify to parliament. Here’s why it matters.

From a @nytimes report yesterday:

According to secret internal Facebook docs, it spends 87% of misinformation budget fighting on US content.

And 13% on the *rest of the world*

We do not matter to Facebook pic.twitter.com/EajX22EDsF

— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) October 25, 2021

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Frances Haugen is spending this morning preparing her evidence to give to MPs later - just as Facebook releases its quarterly report.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Monday for all the latest.