Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony in the UK parliament has concluded. She raised concerns about the company’s focus on algorithms, its approach to misinformation and hate speech moderation. She also reiterated her call for regulating the tech giant to get more transparency, which she previously spoke about in her testimony to US Congress.
Here’s a recap of what Haugen told the UK parliament:
Facebook’s under-invests in content safety systems for non-English languages.
“Facebook says things like, ‘we support 50 languages,’ when in reality, most of those languages get a tiny fraction of the safety systems that English gets,” Haugen told British lawmakers. “UK English is sufficiently different that I would be unsurprised if the safety systems that they developed primarily for American English were actually [under-enforced] in the UK.”
The documents also indicate that the company has, in many cases, failed to adequately scale up staff or add local language resources to protect people in these places.
Facebook should not be allowed to “mislead” its Oversight Board.
“I hope the Oversight Board takes this moment to stand up and demand a relationship that has more transparency,” said Haugen. “If Facebook can come in there and just actively mislead the Oversight Board — which is what they did — I don’t know what the purpose of the oversight board is.”
The board adjudicates cases on controversial content that is both left up or taken down — but these cases are just “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to oversight at Facebook, Oversight Board member and PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said.
The UK is leading the world in its efforts to regulate social media platforms through its Draft Online Safety Bill.
Haugen said she couldn’t imagine that Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg “isn’t paying attention” to the efforts.
While countries in the “Global South” do “not have the resources to stand up and save their own lives,” the UK has the chance to take a “world leading stance” with its bill, which seeks to impose a duty of care on social media sites towards their users, Haugen added.
Facebook views safety as a cost center instead of a growth center.
“I think there is a view inside the company that safety is a cost center; it’s not a growth center, which, I think, is very short-term in thinking. Because Facebook’s own research has shown that when people have worse integrity experiences on the site, they are less likely to retain,” she said Monday.
She urged British lawmakers to put regulations in place, saying it was for the good of the company’s long-term growth.
“I think regulation could actually be good for Facebook’s long-term success. Because it would force Facebook back into a place where it was more pleasant to be on Facebook,” she said.
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