After Whistle-Blower Goes Public, People Wonder if Facebook and Instagram Are Amplifying Hate

By Chloe Levy and David Valdes

On October 5, 2021, Facebook whistleblower and Ex-Facebook product manager Frances Haugen testified to congress about the company’s harm. She claimed Facebook and Instagram amplify hate, misinformation, and political unrest, to exploit it for personal gain. 

What makes Haugen’s allegations unprecedented is the private Facebook research she took when she quit in May.

Haugen appeared before the United States Senate subcommittee and alleged its products “harm children, stroke division and weaken our democracy.” She urged lawmakers to provide more active oversight of the social network. 

Facebook has tried to paint her as a low-level employee talking about things about which she lacks direct knowledge. Haugen has held out against these accusations with her thorough planning and extensive research. Haugen took Facebook’s greatest weapon, the ability to collect and measure the human experience, and used it against them. Haugen said, “it is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety.”

Junior Besiana Karasica when asked if Instagram affects young girls body image said “At some point, yeah, for example, if a skinny girl posts a picture or something, people will get jealous from them[…] If I see someone pretty I will get jealous of her so I think it does affect in some way.”

Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapps CEO Mark Zuckerberg does not admit to having done anything wrong. While Frances Haugen said, “ for more than 5 hours Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.”

Freshman, Molly Strauss said, “I think Instagram harms teenage girls.”

At a question and answer session with the New York Times Zuckerberg spent about 20 minutes discussing the whistleblower, her testimony, and recent media coverage, all without once mentioning Haugen by name. Zuckerberg told employees some of the things she said on how the platform polarizes people were “pretty easy to debunk.”

Haugen will testify in front of the UK Parliament, marking the first time the former product manager will publicly speak to a government outside the United States.