- Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed her identity on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.
- Haugen secretly copied thousands of pages of internal documents she says show Facebook prioritizing “profit over safety.”
- Watch this 13-minute interview clip to hear one of the most clearly articulated arguments against Facebook.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Facebook whistleblower who leaked tens of thousands of pages of internal company research revealed her identity on “60 Minutes” this Sunday, and clearly walked viewers through what she sees as the main problem with Facebook and the actions of its leadership.
Her name is Frances Haugen, and she’s a 37-year-old data scientist who formerly worked on Facebook’s civic integrity team combatting misinformation, a group that was dissolved after the 2020 Presidential election.
Before Facebook, Haugen worked at Pinterest and Google – she has a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from Harvard.
“I’ve seen a bunch of social networks and it was substantially worse at Facebook than anything I’d seen before,” she told “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley on Sunday.
Haugen secretly copied tens of thousands of pages of Facebook’s internal company research which was then published in The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series.
In this 13-minute clip, she explains exactly how and why Facebook amplifies divisive content, a practice she says creates “conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook – and Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”
Haugen said the main reason Facebook’s misinformation problem continues to persist is due to algorithmic changes the social network made in 2018.
“You might see only 100 pieces of content if you sit and scroll on for, you know, five minutes,” Haugen explained. “But Facebook has thousands of options it could show you.”
She said Facebook optimizes content most likely to inspire engagement, another term for user reactions.
“Misinformation, angry content, is enticing to people and keeps them on the platform,” she told “60 Minutes.”
“One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today, is that it’s optimizing for content that gets engagement, a reaction, but its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions,” she said. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money.”
“Every day our teams have to balance protecting the right of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to make our platform a safe and positive place,” Facebook told “60 Minutes” in a statement. “We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”
In addition to breaking down Facebook’s news feed algorithm, Haugen said the social network intentionally turned off “safety systems” that were put in place to reduce misinformation during the 2020 Presidential election.
Later in the interview, she revealed how Facebook forced major political parties across Europe to take “extreme policy positions,” how Instagram harms teenage girls, and how Facebook could potentially be violating SEC regulations.
Haugen’s full interview can be viewed on “60 Minutes OverTime.”