How Losing a Friend to Misinformation Drove Facebook Whistleblower
Frances Haugen was frustrated that Facebook was not publicly acknowledging the harm its platforms could cause.
Frances Haugen, the whistleblower behind a series of damaging revelations about Facebook, is adamant she wants to help the social media company and not foment hatred of it.
The 37-year-old leaked tens of thousands of internal company documents after becoming frustrated that Facebook was not publicly acknowledging the harm its platforms could cause.
“If people just hate Facebook more because of what I’ve done, then I’ve failed. I believe in truth and reconciliation – we need to admit reality. The first step of that is documentation,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
Haugen was a successful tech professional but a decade ago was diagnosed with celiac disease. A family friend was hired to help her with daily tasks, but their relationship deteriorated as he became obsessed with online forums touting conspiracy theories.
“It was a really important friendship, and then I lost him,” she told the WSJ. The former friend has since abandoned his conspiratorial beliefs, which had dragged him into a world of the occult and white nationalism. But it changed Haugen’s career.
“It’s one thing to study misinformation, it’s another to lose someone to it,” she said. “A lot of people who work on these products only see the positive side of things.”
Haugen will appear in front of US lawmakers to reiterate her argument that Facebook did not do enough to stop the hate and harm.