Jack Wolfsohn | Writer
14 October 2021
Have you ever reported a post for hate speech, racism, or homophobia, but then scrolled down on your feed a little bit and gotten the exact same post again? Well, there’s a reason for that: it allows big social media companies to make an inconceivable amount of money.
Recently, a woman named Frances Haugen, a former data scientist for Facebook, came forward with definitive proof of Facebook’s secretive choice to maximize profits instead of creating a safe space for people on the internet. She copied thousands of documents that give a clear understanding of what Facebook knew about the harmful effects its social media platforms have.
Frances Haugen was working to understand how small amounts of misinformation balloon to massive proportions through social media algorithms like the ones used by Facebook and Instagram (which, in case you didn’t know, is owned by Facebook). Lawsuits and accusations made by previous Facebook employees is nothing new, but nothing this big has ever surfaced. There are unpublished surveys of teens who experienced a much higher percentage of suicidal thoughts after using a social media platform owned/operated by Facebook, unpublished studies of an increase in eating disorders in teens after using a Facebook-owned platform, and much more that has been deliberately hidden from the public to preserve Facebook’s image.
The perfect position to intercept information is a data scientist who needs that information to conduct their research. Luckily, that data scientist was a decent human being and prevented further harm to society with the leaking of an Instagram product aimed at children who are 12-years-old or younger (as Facebook is technically limited to people 13+ years of age). The immoral products that Facebook was planning have been revealed to the public, and in most cases, Facebook did their own studies on the possible effects of their products and found them to be negative.
“How can Facebook even put up an argument against this?” junior Ryan Savoie said. “There’s like zero claims that they can make to get out of this.”
Basically, Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have written some words about how nothing is more important to them than the safety and happiness of their customers. Although they haven’t made any substantial counter claims, Facebook is attempting to argue that the documents Frances Haugen copied were stolen. Fortunately, whistleblower protections shield Haugen from any criminal charges. However, she has made some comments to the press about Facebook that could be considered defamation, so Facebook could pursue legal action against her individually.
“Facebook needs to be checked, like prohibited or restricted from doing certain things,” junior Dallin Hansen said. “It must be like some sort of split in people’s opinions on regulating Facebook that’s preventing us from making a decision quickly.”
Interestingly, both Democrats and Republicans want Facebook to be regulated. Whether that’s because senior citizens don’t understand technology or because both parties don’t want misinformation to influence America on a large scale is tough to say, but the reality that society’s view of Facebook is widely becoming negative is apparent.