- Former Facebook employee Sophie Zhang is willing to testify before Congress, she told CNN.
- Zhang said she’d shared documenation about “potential criminal violations” with a US law enforcement agency.
- Zhang publicly criticized Facebook in a 7,800-word memo after she was fired in 2020.
Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist who went public with her criticisms of the company in September 2020, has told CNN she is willing to testify before Congress.
Zhang also said on Twitter on Sunday that she had provided a US law enforcement agency with “detailed documentation regarding potential criminal violations.”
When asked by CNN, Zhang did not say which agency she gave documents to. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by CNN.
“If Congress wishes for me to testify, I will fulfill my civic duty, as I’ve publicly stated for the past half year,” Zhang said in a tweet Monday that linked to her CNN interview.
Speaking to CNN, Zhang said she was encouraged by the apparent bipartisan support for action against Facebook following Frances Haugen, another Facebook whistleblower, testifying about children’s safety on Facebook and Instagram in a congressional hearing on October 5.
Zhang was fired from Facebook in August 2020, but before she left she posted a 7,800-word memo detailing how she believed the company allowed authoritarian regimes around the world to manipulate its platform.
“I have blood on my hands,” Zhang wrote in the memo, which was obtained by BuzzFeed. Zhang wrote that she was officially being fired for “poor performance.”
As well as posting the memo internally, Zhang uploaded it to her personal website, and in July 2021 she told The MIT Technology Review that Facebook issued a complaint to her hosting server and that her website was subsequently taken offline.
Facebook did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment on Zhang’s new comments. In a statement given to The MIT Technology Review in July, a Facebook spokesperson said: “For the countless press interviews she’s done since leaving Facebook, we have fundamentally disagreed with Ms. Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform … We aggressively go after abuse around the world and have specialized teams focused on this work.
“As a result, we’ve already taken down more than 150 networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior … Combatting coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority.”
In a statement to CNN on Monday, a Facebook spokesperson repeated that the company had taken down more than 150 networks since 2017, and said, “Our track record shows that we crack down on abuse abroad with the same intensity that we apply in the US.”
Haugen said in her October 5 testimony that Facebook under-resourced teams and tools that were looking for abuse in languages other than English.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a statement last week saying Haugen’s characterization of the company was a “false picture.”