Facebook Whistle-Blower Haugen Applauded in European Parliament
(Bloomberg) -- The ex-Facebook employee and whistle-blower Frances Haugen gave fresh testimony Monday in the European Parliament, where legislators are drafting strict new rules to rein in technology platforms and their influence in the region.
Haugen’s opening remarks garnered applause from the room of senior lawmakers, in which she told them “Facebook chooses profit over safety every day” and that she endorsed the EU’s draft legislation to tackle the company and its biggest peers.
“The EU’s Digital Services Act has huge potential,” she said. “It takes a content-neutral approach to addressing the systemic risks and harms of the overall business model and I strongly support this.”
Haugen told lawmakers the volume of languages spoken across Europe should be of particular concern, based on her observations of how users of Facebook helped incite genocidal violence against the Muslim minority in Myanmar.
“I guarantee you there are a lot of languages in Europe with no safety systems, or minimal safety systems,” she said.
Lawmakers invited Haugen to Brussels after she shared a trove of documents with journalists and authorities that suggested Facebook prioritizes profit over content moderation.
Facebook, now a subsidiary of parent Meta Platforms Inc., has said what Haugen handed over “can in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us.”
In an interview with Bloomberg, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, said picking safety or innovation was “a false choice,” and that the company could “do both.”
The European Parliament is reviewing proposed legislation, the Digital Services Act, under which technology platforms like Facebook and Google could face fines as high as 6% of global revenue for failures in tackling illegal and harmful content on their platforms. It’s intended to become law next year.
Haugen’s leak coincided with Facebook’s rebranding and its announcement to create 10,000 new jobs in the EU to help develop a “metaverse.”
“The fact that they can afford 10,000 more engineers to build video games when they allegedly can’t afford to have 10,000 engineers working on our safety, I find that unconscionable,” Haugen said in Brussels.
Her comments echoed those of British lawmaker Nadine Dorries, who this week said Facebook should focus on the safety of its existing platforms before creating a new one.
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