WHO IS IN INVOLVED?
Frances Haugen, a former FB product manager on their civic misinformation team, secretly copied tens of thousands of documents containing research done by Facebook about the impact and control the site has on the public and its users.
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?
Haugen states that FB has research findings that support the company’s purposeful dissemination (to broadcast a message to the public without direct feedback from the audience) of hate speech and misinformation and their disregard for the need to protect society from such things in return for profit.
WHAT IS THEIR MOTIVE?
This spread of fury on Facebook has been affecting societies around the world. The claims also include that FB only acted on 3-5% of hate speech on the platform and that they knowingly control and manipulate the anger of the public to their own advantage. Anger is what fuels Facebook’s algorithm, and happens to be the same emotion that stirs and guides our moral compasses. A close friend of Haugen was affected by the spread of hatred and false information, and although little details were given, it is clear that this person has been lost from Haugen’s life following their association with the negative info.
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram seem to only favor public interest when it benefits them financially, not when health is at stake. Health in this case is not limited to the mental and emotional kind either. According to one of the studies released by the whistleblower, 17% of teen girls surveyed said that FB makes eating disorders worse.
Haugen is encouraging the government to impose regulations on social media. She noted
She does not want anyone to go to jail but instead wants lawful changes to be made in order to prevent further harm to be caused. These regulations could potentially change how we interact with these sites but in a positive way.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
The algorithms that Facebook and Instagram use are designed to tailor and customize the ads you see, the content you watch, and even the news you listen to. Although this may seem like an appealing system at first, the way that the information about and your interests are cultivated is something most people would not be comfortable with. Your searches and browsing history are tracked, the people you follow and even the ones you block are noted, every little thing you do is monitored and digested in order to make the perfect feed to keep you scrolling as long as your mind and body can handle. Not only is the method of cultivation suspicious, but the effects of having the same content flowing through your mind constantly are concerning too.
You have the potential to be influenced by social media, there is no doubt about that. But will those social media sites and the government take the steps to make sure the information that influences you is not manipulated?