A former Facebook employee has told the US lawmakers that the company’s products harm children, weaken our democracy and stoke division among community.
The former data scientist at Facebook, Frances Haugen (37 years) turned whistleblower confessed the most threatening scandals of the company at hearing on Capitol hill.
Ms. Haugen heavily criticized the company on Tuesday before a Senate subcommittee.
However the Founder Mark Zuckerberg replied as “recent coverage painted a false picture of the company”.
Ms Haugen told CBS News on Sunday that she had shared a number of internal Facebook documents with the Wall Street Journal in recent weeks.
Using the documents, the WSJ reported that research carried out by Instagram showed the app could harm girls’ mental health.
This was a theme Ms Haugen continued during her testimony on Tuesday. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” she said.
Meanwhile she praised the six-hours outage of Facebook services on Monday and she told senators “We must act now “.
Mr Zuckerberg, in his letter, said the research into Instagram had been mischaracterised and that many young people had positive experiences of using the platform. But he said “it’s very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids”.
In recent time he said the deeper concern was not “how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities”.
On Tuesday Both Republican and Democratic senators were united in the need for change at the company.
Dan Sullivan a fellow Republican said the world would look back and ask “What the hell were we thinking?” in light of the revelations about Facebook’s impact on children.
“The damage to self-interest and self-worth inflicted by Facebook today will haunt a generation,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
In a statement issued after the hearing, Facebook said it did not agree with Ms Haugen’s “characterisation of the many issues she testified about”. But it did agree that “it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet.”
“It’s been 25 years since the rules for the internet have been updated, and instead of expecting the industry to make societal decisions that belong to legislators, it is time for Congress to act,” the statement read.
Particularly Instagram’s impact on young children was too concern to the lawmakers.
Haugen has leaked one Facebook study that found that 13.5 percent of U.K. teen girls in one survey say their suicidal thoughts became more frequent.
Another leaked study found 17% of teen girls say their eating disorders got worse after using Instagram.
About 32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse, Facebook’s researchers found, which was first reported by the Journal.
Further she went on saying “It is clear that Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users.” (Inputs from News Agency)