The Facebook whistleblower who released tens of thousands of pages of internal research and documents indicating the company was aware of various problems caused by its apps, including Instagram’s potential “toxic” effect on teen girls, called on Congress to take action against the social media platform in testimony before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday.
Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former Facebook product manager who worked on civic integrity issues at the company, faced questions from a Commerce subcommittee about what Facebook-owned Instagram knew about its effects on young users, among other issues.
“I am here today because I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” she said during her opening remarks.
“The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won’t solve this crisis without your help,” she said.
Haugen emphasized that she came forward “at great personal risk” because she believes “we still have time to act. But we must act now.”
Following the hearing, Facebook issued a statement attempting to discredit Haugen. “Today, a Senate Commerce subcommittee held a hearing with a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives — and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question,” the statement, tweeted by spokesperson Andy Stone, read. “We don’t agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about. Despite all this, we agree on one thing; it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet.”