Facebook Whistleblower reveals algorithm secrets

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By Tyler Norris

Facebook has found itself in deep water with recent claims from a former data scientist at the company. Frances Haugen was an employee at Facebook for nearly two years with prior stints at Google, Yelp and Pinterest. During her time at Facebook, Haugen studied how the social network’s algorithm amplified misinformation. Haugen claimed that Facebook was fully aware of how its apps and services could cause harm, and that the company would rather focus on maximizing its growth, over implementing safeguarding to combat how harmful its service can be. In testimony to Congress, Haugen said, “The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats and more combat. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people”. To Congress, she said, “During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth: Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook.” 

    A large concern was the impact on children that Facebook services have. Per Haugen, 13.5% of U.K. teen girls in one survey say their suicidal thoughts became more frequent after starting on Instagram. It was also included that teen girl’s body image and body confidence is being worsened through Instagram. Social media have a large impact on what teen girls, in this instance, find socially acceptable, especially in regards to body image. With these allegations coming to life in recency, Facebook needs to make a change immediately to eradicate content that is being perceived as harmful to the younger community. Since Haugen has stepped out from the shadows and brought this to light, people believe this is the first step in the right direction to completely eradicating harmful content, and Facebook focusing more on user safety, and safeguarding as opposed to their own profitable gain.   

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