The hearing with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has covered a lot of ground – and in a more in-depth way than the congressional hearings with the social network’s executives. That may be because Ms. Haugen, 37, a product manager who worked at Facebook for two years before leaving in May, seems to have spoken more freely.
Here are the three main takeaways of the day:
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are united in action to stop the harm done to teens on Facebook. Citing internal research brought to light by Ms. Haugen, lawmakers discussed how Facebook is aware of the harm apps like Instagram do to teenagers. Several senators discussed bills they have proposed that would add safety provisions for young users.
At one point, Ms. Haugen suggested something even more radical: Raise the minimum age for anyone using social media from 13 to 17.
Lawmakers have become smarter about technology. Lawmakers in the hearing explored the role Facebook’s algorithms play in amplifying problematic content and how the company consistently tweaks its algorithms to choose this type of content over content. other content.
That’s far more complicated than the kinds of questions lawmakers have posed before about Facebook. (Remember when, a few years ago, some legislators didn’t know how the company made money?) And while previous hearings have focused on specific issues like giving speeches online or Whether certain individuals or ideas should be banned from the platforms, Tuesday’s hearing discussion was broader and addressed many aspects of the active role Facebook plays in content pieces. content that Facebook promotes.
That was supported by Mrs. Haugen’s candlelight. She used Facebook’s knowledge of technology to explain how the algorithms work in layman’s language and began a nuanced discussion of what lawmakers might do in the future. future.
Facebook is sitting on an even bigger mountain of internal research. The thousands of documents that Ms. Haugen provided to lawmakers could very well be just the tip of the iceberg. In her testimony, she encouraged lawmakers to request more documents and internal research from Facebook, saying that only through complete transparency can Congress hope to understand and ultimately regulate. social network.
Mrs. Haugen also hinted that she was much more than that. During the hearing, she mentioned that she was talking to a separate congressional committee about how Facebook has key security teams that are understaffed to monitor whether countries are using the platform. to spy on each other and carry out disinformation campaigns. She said the company did not adequately protect against threats emerging from China, Iran, Russia and other countries.