The Facebook “Whistleblower” Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship

I have to admit, Frances Haugen has played this beautifully. Like many so-called whistleblowers (not all), she picked an ideal moment to betray her previous employer, in this case Facebook, leak proprietary documents, turn herself into an instant media star, guarantee books deals, speaking tours and TV stardom, and be praised to the skies by gullible, grandstanding and cynical politicians.

“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” the former Facebook product manager said before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Perfect. I wonder if her media advisor helped her draft it.

Here is all you need to know about Haugan: According to her own website, Haugen was a member of Facebook’s internal  Civic Integrity team in 2020. That means she was part of the team that made the decision to ban the Hunter Biden laptop story by the New York Post from Facebook in October 2020. Facebook, and its evil twin Twitter, refused to allow circulation of the story, accepting without evidence the defensive Democratic talking point that the laptop was a plant was tied to Russian intelligence. Those claims were disinformation, we now know, and the laptop really did belong to Hunter Biden. Facebook’s partisan embargo on the truth might have determined the election. Is blocking a story that might defeat Joe Biden what the whistleblower considers avoiding division and protecting democracy?

It’s a rebuttable presumption. I don’t trust Haugan, her motives, or her message.

Reading various summaries of her testimony, I was unable to detect any “bombshells”, though Senator Blumenthal, D-Conn, who led the hearing, intoned of the leaked Facebook documents, “This research is the definition of a bombshell.” (To be fair, the Senator advanced his career by falsely representing himself as a Vietnam combat veteran, so his knowledge of bombshells is limited. )Indeed, there was nothing surprising in her testimony at all. Obviously most Senators don’t use Facebook, though some have 20-something staff running pages for them. I use Facebook, though less and less. I’ve seen how it encourages sensational, often hysterical, posts and the mob-mind that follows. Its filters allow users to make certain that they only read what they want to read, and that their own inaccurate posts are never flagged by people like, well, me. I know Facebook’s algorithms are biased and incompetent: Ethics Alarms was blocked from Facebook for more than two years, because I wrote an ethical defense of Fred Astaire’s use of blackface to honor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.” You don’t need a whistleblower when what she’s blowing the whistle about has been in the open for years.

The Times writes, in one of its many stories about yesterday’s “bombshells,” “Ms. Haugen has presented damning evidence that Facebook knew more about the harms it was causing than it let on publicly.” Define “harms,” please. One of Haugen’s claims is that Facebook helped launch the January 6 Capitol riot. I’m pretty sure that Facebook and other social media helped launch George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests and riots too, but I bet we won’t hear Facebook criticized for that. When Iran had a pro-democracy uprising sparked by Twitter, the platform was hailed as a boon to freedom. Haugen apparently thought letting the public know that Hunter Biden was using his father as a tool while he was neck-deep in corruption would cause “harm.”

What a surprise! A major corporation seeks profit rather than to advance the “public interest,” whatever that is. No, I don’t trust the judgment of people like Haugen to decide what’s in my interest or the public’s, particularly when it comes to speech and information. Facebook exists to make money by allowing people to exchange information. Haugan, appears to be under the delusion that corporations must guide us to Truth (as she sees it) and The Greater Good. Gee, I wonder who she voted for?

One of the emotional moments in the hearing was when Blumenthal read a letter from a constituent:

“I’m in tears right now watching your interaction with Frances Haugen. My 15-year-old daughter loved her body at 14. Was on Instagram constantly and maybe posting too much. Suddenly she started hating her body and her body dysmorphia, now anorexia, and was in deep, deep trouble before we found treatment. I fear she will never be the same.”

This was part of the “bombshell” revelation that Instagram, which Facebook owns, promotes an obsession with appearances that might cause teens to be ashamed of their bodies. Facebook had research showing this and did nothing about it! Like what, closing down Instagram, which would then be replaced by another company’s version of instagram? And who needed research to figure out that a social media platform dedicated to enabling narcissism by teens and alleged adults sucked into the selfie-addiction by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneris would cause girls to have an unhealthy obsession with their weight and appearance? Oh, morons…and elected officials who weren’t paying attention, and lazy parents who didn’t check what their children were doing online. “Maybe posting too much“??

Haugan suggested that laws be passed to limit social media use to those 17 and older. You know, like porn site limits that work so well.

As I said at the start, she’s played this perfectly. Haugan is even a cookie-cutter attarctive blonde: she could be a talking head on Fox News. She knows Democrats want to constrain and control information, having adopted George Orwell as their mentor. Hilariously, pandemic and vaccine “disinformation” was a major focus of the hearing. When the CDC contradicts the WHO, is that “disinformation”? When the CDC is contradicted by Dr. Fauci, is that disinformation?

Republicans, meanwhile, hate social media platforms in general, being, as a group, about a daces behind Democrats in technological savvy, who are themselves about ten years behind the average 9-year-old. Haugan is being cheered as forging a bi-partisan alliance in Congress…to encourage people like Frances Haugen to decide what we can write and read online. Freedom of speech, bah! We have to stop the harms! Why, it’s like cutting down the laws to stop the Devil! Wait, that reminds me…

Well played, Frances. Well played.

________________________

Sources: NYT 1, 2, 3

11 thoughts on “The Facebook “Whistleblower” Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship

  1. I assumed Facebook ordered her to do this on purpose to deflect attention away from their humiliating incompetence that caused a 7 hour outage of all their services worldwide. A ;whistleblower’ who suggests that facebook needs to have MORE censorship. This hardly hurts Facebook. It does, however, make the media stop covering the fact that either Facebook (1) pushed an update to all their outward-facing routers that wiped their servers off the internet and did this worldwide, simultaneously or (2) did not pay their $15 annual registration fee on the facebook.com domain name and wiped out their web presence. OK, I don’t know if either of those is true (Facebook seems to claim #1 happened)), but these seem the most likely causes and both display humiliating incompetence.

    • I am not sure that there was a coordinated effort by Facebook to deflect on its website’s crash, though her testimony did provide a nice distraction. Yet, those heralding her as a whistleblower didn’t really listen to what she said (yes, Hannity, I am looking right at you, you moron). If they had, they would have been horrified that she wasn’t really advocating for regulations preventing Big Social Media from prohibiting or censoring speed and ideas; in fact, she was advocating for more government control and oversight of the means and methods of communications, flow and availability of information, and enforcement of speech codes. When she testified about Big Social Media’s impact on girls and their body image issues, I could hear “Think of the Children!” screaming in my Dr. Pepper-deprived mind.

      jvb

      • Oh yeah, when they propose the legislation to combat hate speech, they’ll call it “Cute little girls and puppies act” and when people say it sucks, they’ll be called -ists for hating cute little girls and puppies!

  2. I knew she was a leftist BS artist, when I read how during her 60 minutes interview she said misinformation is very personal to her, because she lost a close friend to conspiracy theories and she doesn’t want anyone to every feel they way she felt about her loss. Oh yeah, her friend was definitely spreading conspiracies how Trump was Putin’s puppet, and it hurt her deeply. Give me a break. They might as well have a hearing in congress on the need to involuntarily commit people, who question Democrats. I mean only crazy people would do that! This would be a measure to protect Our Democracy (TM), Fortify the Elections, and bring Unity! And then everyone can get anti-racist re-education! To quote W, if you ain’t with us, you’re against us.

  3. Just read an article in “The Economist” (the one publication I still subscribe to) about this topic that shines some light on a likely motivation of the whistleblowers:

    “The Dodd-Frank Act… offer(s) rewards to successful cases of up to 10-30% of the money collected from sanctions against a firm… (the) Securities and Exchange Commision has paid out $1bn to 207 whistleblowers, including more than $500m in its 2021 fiscal year.”

    I’m in the wrong line of work.

  4. Well hopefully her heartfelt and important testimony will bring us new, better, and more complete removal of disinformation and hurtful content. /sarcasm

  5. So… it seems the Progressives have decided that Facebook needs to do something, and they’re basing everything on that. They’re not looking at all their options.

    The problem as they have described it is, “kids on social media are exposed to information which harms their mental well-being,” but they are only looking at options that involve putting rules and responsibilities on the social media companies.

    What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it ignores the responsibilities of the parent, the child, and the people who put harmful content on the internet in the first place. It ignores the question of how we can fill social media with edifying content instead (because that content is out there–there’s people on Instagram trying to help with body image problems), and the question of how the parent and child can work together to find that content (or just build a life outside of social media) while rejecting harmful content.

    The fundamental liability involved here is stagnation: known motivational limits. People build habits and addictions to things on the internet, because the internet is a source of instant gratification. This phenomenon is a manifestation of decadence: underregulated stagnation.

    The solution as the Progressives see it is dogma: overregulated stagnation. They want to put limits on what people are allowed to find on the internet.

    Granted, social media companies are definitely partly responsible for the problem, because their algorithms are indeed designed to get people addicted to social media and to show people anything and everything that will achieve that goal, regardless of how it shapes their worldview. This should not be surprising: that’s how they make money with sponsored and targeted ads. That’s how free media with advertisements has always worked, all the way back to radio dramas.

    If you want social media companies to make their services healthier for society (i.e. less mind-warping and addictive), then people will use those services less, and that ad revenue is going to go down. Social media companies will have to change their business model. It might involve charging their users, which in turn might affect people in poorer communities. That means the whole situation ties in with income inequality, which is also connected with all these businesses buying ad space in the first place to sell their products and services.

    As usual, the response will require some negotiation and coordinated participation from many different communities and groups if we’re going to do anything constructive. Constructive solutions are rarely unilateral, but they’re much more rewarding for everyone than anything we can force someone to do by law.

    I’d really like to see a world where the general public actually talks through all these aspects of the problem and comes up with constructive responses they’re willing to support instead of arguing about whether or not somebody should be forced to do something. Only when we can do that can we start building an economy where we just spread the useful work across more people instead of overworking everyone and forcing most people to pretend their jobs are necessary. (That’d reduce the corporate greed everyone hates so much, I’d wager.)

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