Facebook employee exposes the company’s intentions


Ava Wong

Teenagers are trapped in an endless cycle of mental health and body issues because it profits Instagram.

Ava Wong, Commentary Editor

In late September, 1,000’s of internal Facebook files were leaked revealing Facebook’s own executives and researchers are well aware of the harm their platforms cause.

Knowing this, they have chosen to ignore the damages in order to profit. The documents were given to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress and the Wall Street Journal.

About a week after they were leaked, the whistle-blower came forward. Her name is Frances Haugen, a former data scientist for Facebook.

Haugen worked for Pinterest and Google before joining Facebook in 2019. When she started, she showed interest in working with the company to stop the spread of, and protect the public from misinformation after losing a close friend to online conspiracy theories.

She revealed herself on a “60 Minutes” interview where she thoroughly explained the extent to how Facebook manages and magnifies the hate and misinformation spread on it’s platform.

The company denies this saying that it has maintained necessary safeguards, though it is quite obvious that safety has been removed to some degree.

This is prevalent in the spreading of right-wing conspiratorial content that populated people’s phones leading up to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, according to Haugen.

From physical violence, to the mental side of things, Haugen shared that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has been proven by their own internal research to have negative mental effects on teenage girls.

Since 2018, Facebook has prioritized MSI (meaningful social interactions), an algorithm that shows predicted content based on content an individual has shown to interact with the most, such as comments, likes and re-shares.

Facebook promotes MSI, saying it is beneficial for relationships and well-being, although its proven to increase divisive, abhorrent content.

False information is easily spread to the feeds of these girls’ Instagram’s that push self-image ideals and eating disorders.

The more teenagers believe these ideas, the more they interact with the posts, which the algorithm picks up and continues to display this content, continuing the horrible process.

As a teenage girl, I’ve seen first hand the negative effects Instagram has had on myself and people around me. To know there is truthful research to this, and the company ignored it to keep us on the app, feels like a stab in the back. Violence is all around social media, it has to stop.

Facebook global head of safety Antigone Davis was questioned about Facebook’s negative and harmful effects on teenagers and children during a hearing late September after the documents were leaked.

Shortly after, Haugen testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Capitol Hill. Here, Haugen explained the extent of harm forms of social media causes young people.

Several senators discussed proposed bills that would add safety provisions for young users. Haugen even suggested increasing the minimum age for any person using social media to 17 years instead of 13 years, which is a little extreme.

We should first and foremost strengthen security because it is not just teenagers affected by the harm.

Adults are constantly being fed misinformation and it can be just as harmful and lead to events such as the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Haugen also pointed out that these few documents were just the tip of the iceberg. She encouraged lawmakers to demand more documents and internal research from Facebook, stating that it was the only way for Congress to have complete transparency and understanding when it comes to regulating social media.

Facebook disagreed with her testimony but admitted new regulations for the internet were long overdue.

Times are constantly changing and social media is constantly changing. With this change we also need order and law to keep everyone safe and open to truthful information. It’s time for Congress to act.