MENLO PARK (KPIX) — A new whistleblower is taking on Menlo Park-based Facebook, one of the most powerful companies in the world, just a couple weeks after Frances Haugen testified to members of Congress the tech giant chooses profit over safety.
The whistleblower, who remained anonymous, released his or her 5-page legal filing to the Washington Post Friday. They reaffirmed Haugen’s allegations that Facebook officials turn the other cheek when they’re aware of harmful content on its platform.
“What we have now are internal people coming forward, they’re playing that whistleblower role,” said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock. “It’s hastening some kind of reckoning, which will ultimately be government hearings, the advent of regulation, so on and so forth.”
According to the Post article, the newest whistleblower alleges Facebook Communications vice-president Tucker Bounds shrugged off Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election when it bought social media ads to spread disinformation.
The whistleblower said Bounds said, “It will be a flash in the pan. Some legislators will get pissy. And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile, we are printing money in the basement and we are fine.”
Earlier this month, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen said in a congressional hearing, “Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”
In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Erin McPike said: “This is beneath the Washington Post, which during the last five years would only report stories after deep reporting with corroborating sources. At the heart of this story is a premise that is false. Yes, we’re a business and we make profit but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or well-being misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie. The truth is we’ve invested $13 billion and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook.”
The whistleblowers allege that Facebook, which owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, has failed to make all its platforms safe from hate speech, violent and terrorist content and much more, including failing to warn its investors when issues surface, according to the Post.
“So many companies have had to wrestle with these issues, which are philosophical, moral and ethical: children’s sugar cereal, the soda industry, tobacco,” said Hancock. “But this is complicated, this is not tobacco, this is a communications platform. It has to be treated differently and I’m certain that it will.”