Press "Enter" to skip to content

How Frances Haugen’s Inside Knowledge of Facebook is Making This Hearing Different

One standout from this hearing so far is how Frances Haugen, the whistle-blower who once worked at Facebook, is using her insider knowledge of the social network to provide new insights that few outsiders have heard before.

Ms. Haugen, citing the internal documents that she provided to lawmakers, stressed how the problems with the social network lay with Facebook’s algorithms and the decisions the company made as to what people see on the platform. Ms. Haugen said that lawmakers had to demand more transparency from Facebook into its algorithms and internal metrics if they hoped to understand and regulate it.

“We can afford nothing less than full transparency,” she said. “As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows and hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable.”

She also gave insight into Facebook’s internal problems. Constant scandals had left the Silicon Valley company understaffed because many people had quit, she said, and it was struggling to hire enough new employees.

Ultimately, Facebook’s ownership structure was also an issue, she said. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, holds a disproportionate amount of control over the company as he owns more than 55 percent of its voting shares.

“There is nobody currently holding Zuckerberg accountable but himself,” Ms. Haugen said. “The buck stops with Mark.”