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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to testify in Britain

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen will testify in Britain in less than a fortnight after her testimony in Congress.

The 37-year-old former data scientist from the tech company will speak with Parliament’s joint committee in London on October 25 from 2:30 p.m. on the draft online security law.

The hearing will be the first public evidence Miss Haugen has given in Europe regarding her experiences at the company and her ideas for regulating social media.

Facebook falls within the scope of the new law, which gives British regulator Ofcom the power to fine tech companies of millions of pounds.

Miss Haugen, a former product manager of Facebook’s disinformation team, has been invited to help educate the committee on how they will shape the bill.

Ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen to speak before US Congress in Washington on October 5

Tory MP Damian Collins, Chair of Parliament's Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill

Tory MP Damian Collins, Chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill

Conservative MP Damian Collins, chairman of the committee, said: “The evidence from Frances Haugen has so far strengthened the case for an independent regulator with the power to control and inspect the major tech companies.

Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg have complained that she has only given a partial view of the company, while wanting to stop all insights into how the company handles harmful content to get into the public domain unless they personally approve it.

Who is whistleblower Frances Haugen?

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, a Harvard-educated data scientist, had worked as a product manager on the societal disinformation team after joining the team in 2019.

Before leaving, she secretly copied tens of thousands of pages of internal investigative documents and leaked them to the Wall Street Journal.

An internal study reported that 13.5 percent of teenage girls say Instagram worsens thoughts of suicide and 17 percent of teenage girls say it worsens eating disorders.

The 37-year-old told Congress last week that she had leaked the documents to prove to the world that Facebook “deliberately hides vital information from the public.”

Miss Haugen said it had “repeatedly misled” about what its own research revealed about “child safety, the effectiveness of its artificial intelligence systems and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.”

She argued that people deserved to know the truth – adding that “hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside.”

But Facebook executives have fought back, claiming she hadn’t worked directly on some of the issues she was questioned about.

“There needs to be more transparency about the decisions that companies like Facebook make when they trade user safety for user engagement. We look forward to discussing these issues with Frances Haugen.”

Miss Haugen went before US Congress in Washington DC last week to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram, which it owns.

She said internal investigations had found apparent harm to some teens, alleging that Facebook was dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation.

Ms Haugen’s allegations were accompanied by tens of thousands of pages of internal investigative documents that she secretly copied before quitting her job.

She also claimed that Facebook “tore society apart” because it continues to put profit over safety.

Miss Haugen accused the firm of slackening efforts to stop disinformation after last year’s US election, allowing it to be used by those who stormed the Capitol in Washington in January.

She also said Facebook’s profits are based on ads, and research has shown that “angry content” is more likely to keep users engaged, making it more earning, Ms Haugen said.

But Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Sir Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister, dismissed the allegations.

Miss Haugen has agreed to meet with Facebook’s supervisory board in the coming weeks to update them on what she’s learned while working at the company.

The law on the online safety law, aimed at regulating social media, will be submitted to parliament for approval next year after the publication of the draft bill in May.

Others who will testify to the committee in the coming weeks include MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis and attorney Gavin Millar, QC.

Frances Haugen told Congress last week (pictured) that she had leaked the documents to prove to the world that Facebook is

Frances Haugen told Congress last week (pictured) that she had leaked the documents to prove to the world that Facebook is “deliberately hiding vital information from the public”

Facebook's vice president of global affairs Sir Nick Clegg (pictured on CNN on Sunday), the former British deputy prime minister, has dismissed Ms Haugen's allegations

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Sir Nick Clegg (pictured on CNN on Sunday), the former British deputy prime minister, has dismissed Ms Haugen’s allegations

Also speaking are Society of Editors president Alison Gow and Peter Wright, editor emeritus at DMG Media, whose brands include MailOnline and the Daily Mail.

Yesterday, the father of tragic teenager Molly Russell criticized Facebook for “a crisis communications initiative” after it announced new features to help protect children.

Ian Russell founded a charity to prevent suicide after his 14-year-old daughter committed suicide in 2017 after viewing disturbing content on the company’s Instagram app.

And Mr Russell, from Harrow, north-west London, has yet to be convinced of the new features, including urging teens to take a break from using Instagram.

Molly Russell committed suicide after viewing thousands of suicide and self-harm posts online

Molly Russell committed suicide after viewing thousands of suicide and self-harm posts online

Ian Russell started a charity to prevent suicide after his 14-year-old daughter committed suicide

Ian Russell started a charity to prevent suicide after his 14-year-old daughter committed suicide

Another feature causes the app to “nudge” teens if they repeatedly watch the same content, which may not be good for their well-being.

Facebook also plans to introduce new optional controls that will allow parents and guardians to monitor their children’s online activities.

But critics say the company only acted under outside pressure, while others argue the plan isn’t detailed and they are skeptical about the effectiveness of its features.

A Facebook spokesperson told MailOnline that the new parental control tools were announced late last month in a blog post by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri.

Frances Haugen will speak with the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the draft Online Security Act on Monday 25 October from 2.30pm.

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