Whistleblower Haugen: “Facebook is dangerous for our children”

Status: 08.11.2021 07:43 a.m.

The former Facebook employee and whistleblower Haugen appears today before a committee of the European Parliament. In Silicon Valley, she has the backing – and benefits from special structures.

By Marcus Schuler, ARD Studio Los Angeles

“My name is Frances Haugen. I worked at Facebook because at first I thought the company brought out the best in us. Today I am sitting in front of you because I am convinced that Facebook is dangerous for our children. It sows discord and weakens our democracy. “

When Frances Haugen testified before the US Congress on October 5, it was the culmination of an almost meticulously planned publication campaign. The former Facebook employee has one goal above all: she wants to wake up the public with her documents from the corporate headquarters of the social media group.

Under no circumstances should her happen to what happened to another whistleblower, the former Facebook computer scientist Sophie Zhang. They had set up and published a website, which is why, in their opinion, Facebook fails when it comes to hate speech and misinformation. Zhang recently told CNN: “First, Facebook shut down my web server, then they even blocked my domain name.”

Haugen secured himself legally

When Haugen decided in the spring to hand over extracts from her company documents to Jeff Horwitz, a tech journalist from the “Wall Street Journal” in Silicon Valley, she began to secure herself legally at the same time.

Larry Lassig, well-known constitutional lawyer and professor at Harvard, is her first port of call. He arranges them for the PR agency of Bill Burton, a former spokesman for Barack Obama. He also works for the activist organization “Center for Humane Technology” in San Francisco. The non-profit organization is committed to reforming tech companies.

Haugen receives legal support from “Whistleblower Aid”, also a non-profit company. Both are financially supported by Pierre Omidyar, among others. The billionaire founded the online marketplace Ebay.

It is also Omidyar who organized the current tour in Europe with his non-profit company Luminate Haugens. In the meantime, a solid network has been established in Silicon Valley to protect whistleblowers from the tech industry, which is supported primarily with the money of tech millionaires, for whom the power of Facebook, Google and Amazon goes too far.

Much praise for Haugen’s revelations

So far, Haugen has done everything right in the US public and gained a lot of sympathy, says Cecilia Kang, among others. She is a journalist for the “New York Times” and reports on the tension between politics and tech companies from the US capital Washington. Together with her colleague Sheera Frankel, she wrote a book on Facebook entitled “The Ugly Truth”. She pays homage to 37-year-old Haugen:

She gave an unvarnished insight into how Facebook works. Congress and the public have never heard anything like this before in such clarity. She was also able to back up her testimony with tens of thousands of internal documents.

There is also praise from Roger McNamee, a Facebook investor from the very beginning and a former advisor to Mark Zuckerberg. Today he is one of the group’s greatest opponents. Whistleblower Haugen staged the disclosure of her Facebook documents like a perfect product launch in Silicon Valley, McNamee told enthusiastically a few days ago at the web summit in Lisbon.

“With the articles in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ in which her name did not appear, she created tension in the first place,” said tech investor McNamee. “Then her interview on the TV station CBS and finally her testimony before the Senate committee. It sparked a profound discussion.” McNamee believes, however, that Facebook can only be stopped if the group’s management is threatened with jail time.

Frances Haugen and her group of supporters in the background

Marcus Schuler, ARD Los Angeles, November 8th, 2021 7:02 am


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