The Key Takeaways from Frances Haugen’s Facebook Testimony

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The hearing with Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistle-blower, lined plenty of floor — and in a much more in-depth way than at previous congressional hearings with executives of the social community. That may well be mainly because Ms. Haugen, 37, a item manager who labored at Facebook for two decades in advance of leaving in Might, appeared to speak additional freely.

In this article are a few main takeaways from the day:

  • Republican and Democratic lawmakers are united on having action to cease the harms prompted to teens on Fb. Citing internal investigation brought to light-weight by Ms. Haugen, lawmakers talked about how Facebook knew the hurt that applications these as Instagram were being leading to to teenagers. A number of senators talked over expenditures they have proposed that would insert protection provisions for younger buyers.

    At one point, Ms. Haugen recommended some thing even additional radical: Expanding the bare minimum age for any particular person making use of social media to 17 several years aged from 13 yrs outdated.

  • Lawmakers have gotten smarter about tech. Lawmakers in the listening to explored the position that Facebook’s algorithms play in amplifying problematic information, and the way in which the enterprise continuously tweaks its algorithm to choose 1 form of content material in excess of one more.

    That is considerably much more innovative than the kinds of issues lawmakers have previously questioned about Fb. (Try to remember when, a number of yrs ago, some lawmakers didn’t know how the corporation built money?) And while previous hearings have focused on precise difficulties this sort of as speech on line or no matter whether a specific person or plan should really be banned from the platforms, the dialogue in Tuesday’s hearing was broader and touched on a lot of aspects of the lively part that Fb plays in the parts of information that it encourages.

    That was buttressed by Ms. Haugen’s candor. She used know-how of Facebook’s technological innovation to explain how the algorithms do the job in layman’s language, and started a nuanced dialogue on what lawmakers could do likely ahead.

  • Fb is sitting on an even much larger mountain of inner research. The hundreds of files offered by Ms. Haugen to lawmakers are most likely just the idea of the iceberg. In her testimony, she encouraged lawmakers to need more documents and internal analysis from Fb, stating that it was only as a result of full transparency that Congress could hope to understand and at some point control social media.

    Ms. Haugen also hinted that there was a lot more to arrive from her. Through the hearing, she talked about that she was talking to a different congressional committee on how Facebook has understaffed crucial safety groups that observe whether nations have been employing the platform to spy on just one a different and operate disinformation campaigns. She stated the business was failing to adequately protect versus threats rising from China, Iran, Russia and other international locations.