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Facebook is ‘tearing our societies apart,’ former employee says

Facebook has been accused of ‘tearing our societies apart’ and choosing profit

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A conference worker at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California.

A conference worker passes a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif.

Noah Berger, Associated Press

Facebook has been “tearing our societies apart” as it has chosen profit over people, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said over the weekend in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

  • “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” Haugen told “60 Minutes.”

Haugen said Facebook has been promoting profit over the public good, despite comments from Facebook leadership that it is trying to make the platform safe for everyone.

  • “There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said.

Per Recode, Haugen said Facebook may have relaxed “its standards on misinformation after the 2020 presidential elections, shortly ahead of the Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol.”

These allegations come as Facebook published two slide decks about its own research into how Instagram impacts teenagers and their mental health, Engadget reported.

  • The slides showed how Facebook talks about its own product, highlighting in one slide how “one in five teens say that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves, with UK girls the most negative,” according to Engadget.

Two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal had a huge report about how Facebook and Instagram internal researchers know that the social media apps can be toxic for teen girls.

  • “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said one slide, according to WSJ. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Not long after the The Wall Street Journal report, Facebook said it would pause the development of Instagram Kids, a version of the social media app for kids.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in a blog post that Facebook started the platform “to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older.”

  • But, Mosseri wrote, Facebook wanted to stop development to “give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”