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Facebook whistleblower reveals identity ahead of Senate hearing

Reuters
Facebook whistleblower reveals identity ahead of Senate hearing
Frances Haugen, a product manager at Facebook for more than two years, is set to appear in a US Senate hearing

A former Facebook Inc employee revealed herself on Sunday, October 3, as the whistleblower who leaked a trove of internal company research that served as the basis of a Wall Street Journal investigative series.

The leak led to a Senate hearing and a new wave of criticism over the negative impact of the social media giant’s apps.

Frances Haugen appeared on Sunday on the television program 60 Minutes. She will testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday in a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” about the company’s research into Instagram’s effect on the mental health of young users.

Last week, a Facebook executive testified to US senators and disputed the Journal‘s characterization of the research, pointing out other findings that she said showed the app’s positive impact on teens.

Haugen was a product manager at Facebook for more than two years, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also worked as a product manager at Google, Pinterest and Yelp.

Haugen said she’d seen problems at other social media companies, but “it was substantially worse at Facebook than anything I’d seen before.”

Haugen has also put up her account on Twitter.

She also tweeted, “Together we can create social media that brings out the best in us. We solve problems together – we don’t solve them alone.”

Haugen has a website, franceshaugen.com, which contains her bio:

“Frances Haugen is an advocate for public oversight of social media. Born in Iowa City Iowa, Frances is the daughter of two professors and grew up attending the Iowa caucuses with her parents, instilling a strong sense of pride in democracy and responsibility for civic participation.

Frances holds a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Olin College and a MBA from Harvard. She is a specialist in algorithmic product management having worked on ranking algorithms at Google, Pinterest, Yelp and Facebook. She was recruited to Facebook to be the lead Product Manager on the Civic Misinformation team which dealt with issues related to democracy, misinformation and she later also worked on counter-espionage.

During her time at Facebook, Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes prioritizing their own profits over public safety – putting people’s lives at risk. As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous act to blow the whistle on Facebook.

Frances fundamentally believes that the problems we are facing today with social media are solvable. We can have social media that brings out the best in humanity.” – Rappler.com