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A data scientist named Frances Haugen turned out to be the whistleblower behind a massive revelation of the inner workings on Facebook.
Before appearing at 60 Minutes on Sunday, Haugen, a former employee of the social media giant, kept her identity a secret after giving thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to the media and federal police.
Haugen's planned testimony for this week, as well as the information she has shared so far, suggests the company has misled the public and its investors about its ability to deal with hate speech and misinformation on its platform.
"Facebook has shown time and time again that it prefers profit to security," she said during the interview on Sunday.
Haugen's document dump, her testimony before Congress this week, and ongoing investigative coverage of the company are potentially driving Facebook into its biggest crisis to date. The negative spotlight also comes as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill increasingly question Facebook's actions.
The Facebook files reveal important problems
Hours before Haugen's interview was broadcast, Facebook published a long statement from Political Communications Director Lena Pietsch entitled "Missing Facts from Tonight's 60 Minutes Segment".
She pointed to Facebook's investment in looking out for malicious content; contested the way Facebook's own teen mental health research was reported; and rejected the claim that the social network had promoted political polarization.
The latest coverage by the Wall Street Journal had already put Facebook in the spotlight. Haugen shared thousands of Facebook documents with the newspaper that went into the creation of the Facebook Files series.
So far, the newspaper has revealed how anti-COVID-19 vaccine information flourished on Facebook. It was also reported how the site supposedly has separate rules for celebrities and politicians. According to the report, Facebook allowed VIP users to avoid penalties for bad behavior for a while.
Haugen has also detailed how Facebook quickly disbanded its civic integrity team, which is responsible for protecting the democratic process and combating misinformation, following the 2020 US election. Shortly after, the January 6 riot came in the U.S. Capitol, where organizers used Facebook to help plan.
"I do not trust that they are actually ready to invest what needs to be invested in order to protect Facebook from dangers," Haugen told 60 Minutes.
Do you remember Cambridge Analytica?
Facebook started in CEO Mark Zuckerberg's student residence at Harvard. It is now valued at $ 1 trillion. As the growth has grown, so have the controversies.
The company faced massive setbacks from users, politicians and regulators after the Cambridge Analytica debacle more than three years ago.
A whistleblower named Christopher Wylie went public in 2018 and revealed how British company Cambridge Analytica accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The now-defunct company used this information to try to influence several elections around the world, including the UK's Brexit vote to leave the European Union.
Haugen contacted state officials and the SEC
Other regulators aren't waiting for Congress.
In December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company. In August, the commission amended that complaint and asked the company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.
With these recent allegations, Facebook could soon face the heat of other regulators.
Haugen and her attorney, John Tye, announced that she has filed at least eight complaints with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
These complaints focus on the spread of hate speech on Facebook, misrepresentations of the site's role during the Capitol riot, and the dangers children face on the site.
Tye, who spoke to NPR, said those allegations concerned the difference between what Facebook knew about its platform and what it said publicly. He said misleading investors was a crime under US securities law.
Haugen's documents were also sent to the Attorney General of California, Vermont, Tennessee, and Masach