A former Facebook employee who became a whistleblower called for public insights into the network’s online performance in the US Senate. “Facebook shapes our perception of the world by choosing what information we see,” Frances Haugen said at a hearing on Tuesday.
So far, however, only the Internet company itself knows how to customize its users’ newsfeed. Facebook prevents researchers and regulators from accessing it. Haugen in Washington cautioned that some mechanisms have the potential to provoke addictive behavior, especially in younger users. Facebook and photo platform Instagram are accused, among other things, of putting profits above user welfare.
Haugen called for political intervention: “Facebook will continue to make decisions on its own that are contrary to the public interest” – but no firm measures have been taken against it.
The 37-year-old has been on Facebook for about two years and was previously on Google and the photo platform Pinterest. She worked in the Internet, among other things, to stave off attempts to manipulate the public before the election.
While appearing on the Senate Trade Subcommittee, she warned that Facebook’s attempts to use the software to filter hate speech and harmful content were not effective enough. Facebook always points out that systems are getting better at removing blocked content even before users see it. (dpa)
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