Facebook “Has grown into a trillion dollar business by putting profits before our safety” : This is the heart of the message that Frances Haugen, ex-Facebook employee, should try to convey on Tuesday, October 5, during her hearing before the US Senate Trade Commission. “Congress must change the rules of the game for Facebook and end the damage the business is causing”, still writes Mme Haugen in the opening remarks she will read this afternoon, starting at 4 p.m., and whose content has already been made public.
Frances Haugen, who worked for Facebook for two years in the anti-disinformation division, left the company six months ago, taking with her several thousand pages of documentation, mainly the results of studies carried out. internally, which it sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the policeman of the American Stock Exchange, but also to elected officials, including Senator Richard Blumenthal, regular critic of large companies in Silicon Valley, and the media , whose Wall Street Journal.
Based on these files, the Wall Street Journal had published, at the end of September, a series of articles accusing Facebook of having delayed taking action or ignored the negative consequences caused or accentuated by the use of its services, in terms of the dissemination of false information or hate speech. Facebook strongly defended itself, referring to documents taken out of context or treated in a dramatized way by the American daily.
Instagram particularly targeted by American elected officials
One file, in particular, has focused the attention of American elected officials: a series of studies carried out by Facebook on teenage Instagram users, which show in particular that, for some users, the use of the social network can accentuate the problems of self-image and psychological discomfort. It is this subject, in particular, which must be raised on Tuesday by Mr.me Haugen in front of the American senators, who have already heard on the same subject the head of the security of Facebook, Antigone Davis, last Thursday. During this hearing, Mr.me Davis has been in difficulty on multiple occasions.
Senator Blumenthal has already announced that he intends to relaunch a law project strictly regulating the use of social networks by minors, in particular personal data that may be collected by companies such as Instagram or TikTok.
The hearing of Mme Haugen should take place just twenty-four hours later a major outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which made these three services inaccessible for nearly six hours to their approximately 3.5 billion users. A blockage which illustrated, indirectly, the importance assumed by Facebook services around the world, while other regulators, including the gendarme of the American Stock Exchange, have opened an investigation to determine whether the group is in a monopoly situation or a virtual monopoly in certain markets.