Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Testimony in court planned Facebook whistleblower: "I have blood on my hands"

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Fake profiles and political manipulation: Sophie Zhang uncovered many machinations by foreign governments while working at Facebook. Now she also wants to testify before the US Senate.

Just about a week ago, the whistleblower Frances Haugen testified against the Facebook group. Now another former employee speaks up, reports the “CNN”.

Sophie Zhang announced on Twitter on Sunday that she had forwarded the company’s documents to the US law enforcement authorities and was ready to testify in court. Zhang had worked as a data scientist at Facebook for three years and uncovered political manipulation and fake profiles – until the company finally fired her in 2020. The reason given by the group was that there had been performance problems.

Zhang then published a memo that first appeared on BuzzFeedNews – and went viral. In it, she accused Facebook of not doing enough against hatred and misinformation on the platform. “I now know that I have blood on my hands,” she writes. “In the three years that I have been on Facebook, I have noticed several obvious attempts by foreign governments to attempt to abuse our platform on a large scale,” said Zhang.

She accused Facebook of not doing enough against the fake profiles and fake news, instead she was on her own. “I personally made decisions that affected national presidents without supervision and took measures to enforce against so many prominent politicians around the world that I stopped counting,” said the former Facebook employee.

Frances Haugen: The whistleblower testified in front of the US Senate against Facebook last week.  (Source: imago images / Jabin Botsford / CNP)Frances Haugen: The whistleblower testified in front of the US Senate against Facebook last week. (Source: Jabin Botsford / CNP / imago images)

Zhang said whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony to the U.S. Senate gave her encouragement. Former Facebook manager Frances Haugen became known as a whistleblower in early October. During her hearing, she called on politicians, among other things, to force the online network to be more transparent. “Facebook shapes our perception of the world by choosing the information we see.” So far, however, only the Internet company itself knows how to personalize the users’ newsfeed.

37-year-old Frances Haugen worked for Facebook for around two years and previously worked for Google and the Pinterest photo platform. At the online network she worked, among other things, on the defense against attempts to manipulate public opinion before elections. Haugen was a key source for a series of articles in the “Wall Street Journal” that has been putting Facebook under increasing pressure in the past few weeks. The accusation that Facebook knew from internal studies that Instagram was damaging to the mental health of some teenagers – but did not take consistent action against it – caused particular outrage in the United States.

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