Hours after lawmakers blasted Facebook at a Senate hearing, claiming the social media company harmed children's mental health and stoked divisions, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his company, saying the accusations were at odds with Facebook's goals.
"The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical....We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content."
HAUGEN: "Congress can change the rules that Facebook plays by and stop the many harms it is now causing."
At Tuesday’s hearing a former facebook employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, said the company amplified divisive and dangerous content to boost profits, and called for transparency about how Facebook entices users to keep scrolling, no matter the moral cost.
HAUGEN “As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable….”
Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook's civic misinformation team, left the nearly $1 trillion company with tens of thousands of confidential documents.
"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. Congressional action is needed.”
Panel chair Senator Richard Blumenthal called for Zuckerberg to testify before the committee, and for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook.
Haugen said she would encourage "oversight and public scrutiny" into Facebook's content recommendation algorithms and their consequences, and suggested creating a dedicated body within the federal government to oversee social media companies.
"We can have social media we enjoy, that connects us, without tearing apart our democracy, putting our children in danger and sowing ethnic violence around the world."
Senator Edward Markey at Tuesday’s hearing warned the absent Zuckerberg that a reckoning was at hand:
"Your time of invading our privacy and preying on children is over. Congress will be taking action."