The Digital Insider with Sinan Aral

Frances Haugen: Surveillance Capitalism's Whistleblower

August 02, 2022 MIT IDE Season 1 Episode 4
The Digital Insider with Sinan Aral
Frances Haugen: Surveillance Capitalism's Whistleblower
Show Notes

Today’s guest, Frances Haugen, is a radical advocate for accountability and transparency in social media.

In 2019, she was recruited to Facebook to be the lead Product Manager on the Civic Misinformation team, which dealt with issues related to democracy and misinformation, and later also worked on counter-espionage. Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes prioritizing their own profits over public safety and putting people's lives at risk. As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Facebook. The initial reporting was done by the Wall Street Journal in what became known as “The Facebook Files”.

Frances has testified in front of the US Congress, UK and EU Parliaments, the French Senate and National Assembly, and has engaged with lawmakers internationally on how to best address the negative externalities of social media platforms. 

Frances has filed a series of complaints with the US Federal Government relating to Facebook (now named ‘Meta’) claiming that the company has been misleading the public and investors on how it handles issues such as climate change, misinformation, and hate speech, and the impact of its services on the mental health of children and young adults.

Sinan and Frances discuss transparency, or lack thereof, in social media, the free speech debate and censorship. Frances shares her knowledge on the harmful impact social media has on children and what we should be doing to stop the addiction,  as well as social media's role in the geopolitical landscape.

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