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Facebook put profits over curtailing harmful content: New whistleblower

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A new whistleblower has submitted an affidavit alleging that Facebook prioritized profits over mitigating dangerous or hateful content on its platform, The Washington Post reported Friday.

A new whistleblower has reportedly said that America’s social media Facebook prioritizes profits over mitigating dangerous or hate speech and misinformation on its platform.

The whistleblower, who is purportedly a former member of Facebook’s Integrity team, made the allegations in an affidavit that was submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees publicly traded companies like Facebook, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The affidavit alleges that the company does not prioritize and actually undermines efforts to tackle misinformation, hate speech and other problematic content.

The newspaper reported that Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds claimed the controversy surrounding interference in the 2016 presidential election would be “a flash in the pan.”

“Some legislators will get pissy,” he continued, per the whistleblower. “And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine.”

Erin McPike, a Facebook spokesperson, called the story “beneath the Washington Post, which during the last five years would only report stories after deep reporting with corroborating sources.”

The new whistleblower is filing the affidavit just weeks after Frances Haugen appeared before news media and Congress alleging that Instagram, owned by Facebook, posed health concerns for children.

Earlier this month, she testified before a Senate Commerce subcommittee where she alleged that the social media giant is having harmful effects on American democracy and the mental health of children.

"Facebook has not earned our blind faith," said former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen in her opening statement before lawmakers. "There is a pattern of behavior that I saw [at] Facebook: Facebook choosing to prioritize its profits over people."

"You can declare moral bankruptcy, and we can figure out a fix [to] these things together because we solve problems together," Haugen said.

Haugen detailed numerous incidents in which she said top executives at Facebook, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were made directly aware of their platforms' potentially negative influence on democracy and the mental health of children. But, she alleged, they showed blatant disregard to these issues.

Facebook, however, called many of Haugen's claims as being "misleading." "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," Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch said following the "60 Minutes" interview.

In response to numerous researches suggesting social media platforms were negatively impacting teens' mental health, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg claimed the studies were “inconclusive.”


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