Sunday, 17 October, 2021

‘Facebook weakens democracy’

WASHINGTON: A Facebook whistleblower went before US lawmakers on Tuesday to push them to regulate the social media giant, after an outage hit potentially billions of users and highlighted global dependence on its services, reports AFP.

Ex-employee Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill after she leaked reams of internal research to authorities and The Wall Street Journal, which detailed how Facebook knew its sites were potentially harmful to young people's mental health.

She spoke to senators less than a day after Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp went offline for roughly seven hours, with "billions of users" impacted, according to tracker Downdetector.

Haugen warned in a pre-prepared statement of the risk of not creating new safeguards for a platform that reveals little about how it operates.

"I believe that Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy," her statement said.

"Congressional action is needed. They won't solve this crisis without your help."

In her testimony she notes the danger of the power in the hands of a service that is woven into the daily lives of so many people.

"The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the US government and from governments around the world," Haugen's statement said.

"The severity of this crisis demands that we break out of our previous regulatory frames."