Facebook critics have a Frances Haugen drawback: Many love that the whistleblower leaked a trove of paperwork exposing lots of the tech big’s worst issues — but hate her ideas on methods to remedy them.
Haugen has repeatedly insisted that breaking apart Meta Platforms — the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and which modified its title from Facebook final month amid a torrent of dangerous press — is not going to remedy the problems she has helped uncover. Those embody Instagram’s poisonous results on teen psychological well being and the company’s struggles to crack down on human trafficking.
Instead, Haugen has insisted in interviews and in Congressional testimony that the company’s woes are primarily the results of poor management below Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has deployed algorithms that run its social-networking apps to incentivize engagement at any price.
“These systems are going to continue to exist and be dangerous even if broken up,” Haugen informed Congress in October.
Such feedback have left dangerous tastes within the mouths of many Meta critics, who initially praised Haugen’s leaks as a breakthrough as they search to carry Facebook accountable for its more and more outsize energy.
“She turned over the documents — great,” Mike Davis, head of the conservative anti-Big Tech group the Internet Accountability Project, informed The Post. “Thank you for your service. Now go away.”
“She’s not a policy expert, especially not in antitrust,” mentioned Davis, who beforehand labored for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and helps a slate of House antitrust payments, together with one that would break up Meta, Google and different large tech corporations.
Instead of slicing the company into items, Haugen informed lawmakers that the federal government ought to depart Meta entire and create a brand new regulator that will have the ability to request company information and power modifications to its algorithms.
“There needs to be a regulatory home where someone like me could do a tour of duty after working at a place like this,” Haugen mentioned.
Haugen doubled down on the thought in a Vogue interview on Tuesday, saying that calls to interrupt up the company are “so reductive” and will even violate the primary modification.
“At which point, the way we will get change is if, like, we have 18-year-olds having dance parties outside Mark Zuckerberg’s house,” added Haugen within the interview, which was accompanied by a photoshoot.
But Haugen’s perception that Meta’s harms don’t inherently come from its dimension but slightly from its management and an absence of oversight is misguided, in keeping with Matt Stoller, an antitrust professional and former adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“The documents were useful but she’s not a relevant,” Stoller informed The Post, including that Haugen “doesn’t really have any understanding of the core problem.”
“She basically agrees with Mark Zuckerberg,” he added. “She wants Mark Zuckerberg to be nicer.”
A distinguished Republican lobbyist additionally slammed Haugen, arguing that opening Facebook as much as better competitors would assist tackle points together with Instagram’s damaging results on teenagers.
“Haugen and her largely Democratic supporters are looking at the wrong solution,” the lobbyist informed The Post.
“We do not need a super speech regulator,” the lobbyist added. “We need to solve the market power problem.”
Influential digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in the meantime, has sought to string the needle through the use of Haugen’s testimony to bolster their case for breaking apart the company with out acknowledging that she opposes the thought.
“Facebook’s broken system is fueled by a growth-at-any-cost model, as indicated by some of the testimony Haugen delivered to Congress,” the group wrote in November. “In other words, Facebook’s badness is inextricably tied to its bigness.”
“Requiring Facebook to divest Instagram, WhatsApp, and possibly other acquisitions and limiting the companies’ future mergers and acquisitions would go a long way toward solving some of the problems with the company, and inject competition into a field where it’s been stifled for many years now,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation added.
Meta and Bill Burton, a former Obama administration communications staffer who represents Haugen, didn’t reply to requests for remark.