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Frances Haugen speaking on US television show 60 Minutes.
Frances Haugen speaking on US television show 60 Minutes.
Image: AP/PA Images

Facebook prioritises own interests over public good, whistleblower claims

Facebook’s annual revenue has more than doubled since 2018 to a projected $102.5 billion (£88 billion) this year.
Oct 4th 2021, 10:13 AM 20,205 34

FACEBOOK PREMATURELY TURNED off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in last year’s elections in a moneymaking move, a whistleblower claims.

The whistleblower, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, said this contributed to the invasion of the US Capitol on 6 January.

She also asserted during an exclusive interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes that a 2018 change to the content flow in Facebook’s news feeds contributed to more divisiveness and ill will in a network ostensibly created to bring people closer together.

She said: “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook.

“And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimise for its own interests, like making more money.”

Facebook’s annual revenue has more than doubled from $56 billion (€48 billion) in 2018 to a projected $119 billion (€102.4 billion) this year, based on the estimates of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

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Meanwhile, the company’s market value has soared from $375 billion (€322.8 billion) at the end of 2018 to nearly 1 trillion dollars (€860.8 billion) now.

Even before the full interview came out, a top Facebook executive was deriding the whistleblower’s allegations as “misleading”.

Despite the enmity that the new algorithms were feeding, Facebook found that they helped keep people coming back – a pattern that helped the Menlo Park, California, company sell more of the digital ads that generate most of its advertising.

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