Facebook whistleblower: 'conflicts of interest' over what was good for public, the company

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has exposed Facebook's concerns about negative impact of Instagram content on young women

Updated: October 4, 2021 - 11:59am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Sunday accused the social media giant her former employer of putting profit over the public good, leadership’s assurance the company was working to make the platform safe.

"There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” she said during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Haugen spoke publicly after collecting documents and giving them to The Wall Street Journal, which then published a series of reports on the files that revealed details about the inner workings of the social media company, according to Fox News.

Documents revealed that Facebook's own internal research showed that the company knew some of its products were harmful to the mental health of some of its users, most notably teen girls.

"Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed. And it actually makes them use [Instagram] more," Haugen said.

Haugen said that Facebook placed profit above the well-being of those harmed.

"Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money," said the whistleblower. "Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety."

Haugen, a data scientist with a computer engineering degree and  Harvard MBA, acknowledged Facebook took steps to combat misinformation during the 2020 election but said many of those policies were only temporary.