Former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen has revealed a shocking truth: maybe FB, and its extension Instagram, wants you to feel bad about yourself. User thoughts like depression, embarrassment, anger, and even suicidal thinking, might be the social media's primary source of income.
Internal evidence against Facebook was brought out by its former product manager on the Civic Integrity team. Haugen told 60 Minutes in her interview that "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," per Vox.
Facebook Whistleblower Says FB Prioritizes 'Making More Money'
Haugen said Facebook completely ignored research about user wellness on the platform. Out of the "thousands of options" in its algorithm, the company chose to show users content that made them "angrier."
"One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is optimizing for content that gets engagement or reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it's easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions," Haugen added, per Cnet.
To emphasize, content that gets people angry, annoyed, or depressed gives Facebook a lot of engagement. Their research showed that users are prone to "react" more to those emotion-inducing contents.
Specific victims of this manipulation are young people and teenage girls. Facebook allegedly exploits their emotions, causing them to doubt themselves, have eating disorders, and have depressive episodes. This creates a cycle where teenagers would use the app more for self-satisfaction and inspiration.
Facebook's history of manipulating algorithms doesn't end there.
In the report from Vox, Haugen claimed how one team in the company tasked to reduce risks on elections details and patrol misinformation was ultimately dissolved. Facebook allegedly explicitly relaxed its standards on misinformation during the election season. Months afterward, the January 6 riots happened at the US Capitol.
Facebook's vice president of public policy and global affairs, Nick Clegg, wrote a memo saying the riot's responsibility lies on its perpetrators, those in politics, and related parties that actively encouraged the movement. Social media took no blame and had involvement.
Taking all of this into account, Haugen strongly asserted that Facebook prioritized its profits over the safety of its users.
Facebook Issues: Employees Complaining and Resigning
According to Vox, former and current employees are now discussing their company's issues on Twitter. User @sayhar shared some of his concerns about Haugen's statement.
A friend's candid observation. "The problem is that no one can overtly say: Senator everything internally is written as clickbait because UX research has no dedicated route to ship anything"
- Sahar Massachi (@sayhar) September 30, 2021
For now, Haugen is determined to speak up against Facebook. According to Cnet, she is scheduled to testify before the senate sometime on Tuesday.