Sunday, October 24

Facebook, gutted in the US Senate: “Nobody knows what happens inside”

“Facebook wants you to believe that the problems we are talking about are unsolvable. They want you to believe that you must choose between connecting with your loved ones and your personal privacy. That to share funny photos of your children you must also be inundated with misinformation. They want you to believe that this is just part of the deal. I’m here today to say that’s not true. ”

Thus WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook “disappeared from the Internet” in their historic six-hour fall

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These are the words with which the former Facebook worker Frances Haugen opened her appearance in the US Senate this Tuesday. The consumer protection subcommittee has requested his appearance after this 37-year-old computer engineer sent numerous internal documentation of the company led by Mark Zuckerberg to senators and Wall Street Journal reporters.

The leak has shown not only that Facebook knows that it has a toxic impact on society, but that on many occasions its top management does nothing to remedy it and tries to hide the situation from external investigations. “The documents that I have provided to the Senate prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the effectiveness of its artificial intelligence and its role in spreading divisive and extremist messages,” he said. Haugen before the senators.

The appearance of the former Facebook worker has shed light on the company’s internal practices and the role that Zuckerberg plays in it. The senators have focused their questions on the harmful potential of Instagram for adolescents, following a study prepared by researchers of the social network and revealed by Haugen that concluded that this platform makes a third of its underage users have a worse picture of your body. But his questions have also influenced how his algorithms push the polarization of the public sphere or the need to intervene before it is “too late.”

These are some of the keys to Haugen’s appearance:

The opacity of Facebook and tobacco

“Facebook chooses the information that billions of people see, shaping their perception of reality. Even those who do not use Facebook are affected by the radicalization of people who do. A company with control over our deepest thoughts, feelings and behaviors need real oversight. But Facebook’s closed design means it has no oversight, not even from its own Oversight Board, which is as blind as the public. ”

When the tobacco companies claimed that filter cigarettes were safer, the scientists were able to invalidate it. With Facebook we can’t do it

“Only Facebook knows how to personalize personalize your feed. It hides it behind walls that keep the eyes of researchers and regulators from understanding the true dynamics of the system. When tobacco companies claimed that filtered cigarettes were safer for consumers, scientists were able to independently invalidate that marketing message and confirm that they, in fact, posed a greater threat to human health. But nowadays we can’t do this kind of independent from Facebook. We just have to trust that what Facebook says is true, and they have repeatedly shown that they don’t deserve our trust. ”

Facebook knows that at least 5% of 14-year-old users are addicted to Instagram

“Facebook has studied a pattern they call problematic use, but that we could simply call addiction. It sets a very high bar to consider that you self-identify that you have no control over your use of the platform and that it is damaging your health, your school performance or your physical health. Still, five to six percent of 14-year-olds have the self-awareness to admit those two issues. It is likely that much more than 5 to 6 percent of 14-year-olds are addicted to Instagram. ”

Between 5 and 6% of young people are aware that Instagram harms their health or their school performance

An artificial intelligence that fails

“Facebook’s algorithms promote content based on the interactions they get. Facebook thinks they can do it safely because they have artificial intelligence, which will find the harmful content that they know that their ranking based on interactions is promoting. They have written articles on their blog. about how they know that rankings based on interactions are dangerous. But they trust AI will save them. Facebook’s own research says they can’t properly identify harmful content, and as a result, those dangerous algorithms generate polarization and division. They can’t protect us from harm that they know exists in their own system. ”

They cannot protect us from harm that they know exists in their own system

“I don’t think this is just a matter of saying whether people should have the option to choose not to be manipulated by their algorithms. I think that if they had proper oversight, or if we held Facebook accountable for the consequences of their algorithms, they would be undone. of those classifications based on interactions. Those algorithms are exposing teens to more anorexia content. It is separating families and, in places like Ethiopia, it is literally stoking ethnic violence. I encourage you to reform these platforms, not choosing individual ideas, but making the platforms themselves safer, less reactive, less viral. ”

The role of Mark Zuckerberg

“Mark has a very unique role in the technology industry because he has more than 55% of all voting shares on Facebook’s board of directors. There are no other large companies where power is similarly distributed, So unilaterally controlled. And in the end, the responsibility falls on Mark for everything. There is currently no one to hold Mark accountable for his own actions. ”

Mark [Zuckerberg] controls Facebook unilaterally. Currently there is no one to hold Mark responsible for his own actions

“I got an MBA from Harvard, and they emphasize to us that we are responsible for the organizations that we build. Mark has built a very metrics-oriented organization. It is intended to be flat. There is no one-sided responsibility. Metrics make the decision. Unfortunately, that is a decision itself. And in the end, if he is the CEO and president of Facebook, he is responsible for those decisions. The responsibility lies with him. ”

Instagram for 10-13 year olds and Facebook’s decision to freeze it

“I would be genuinely surprised if they didn’t continue with the Instagram Kids project, and I’d be surprised if a year from now we won’t have this conversation again. That’s why Facebook understands that if they want to keep growing, they have to find new users. They have to make sure that the next generation is just as committed to Instagram as the current one. And the way they will do that is by making sure kids establish habits so they have good self-management. ”

Facebook internal documents speak to the importance of getting younger users, such as tweens

“Facebook’s internal documents speak to the importance of getting younger users, for example tweens with Instagram Kids, because they understand its value to Facebook’s long-term success.”

Why did you decide to filter internal documents

“I joined Facebook in 2019 because someone close to me became radicalized on the internet. I felt compelled to take an active role in creating a better, less toxic Facebook. During my time at Facebook, first working as a product manager for Integrity. Civic and later Counter-Intelligence, I saw that Facebook repeatedly encountered conflicts between its own benefits and our security. Facebook systematically resolved those conflicts in favor of its own benefits. The result has been a system that amplifies division, extremism, and violence. polarization, and undermines societies around the world. In some cases, this has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people. In other cases, your profit optimization machine is generating self-harm and self-image problems. especially for vulnerable groups, such as adolescent girls. These problems have been repeatedly confirmed by the internal research d e Facebook “.

I discovered a terrifying truth: hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook

“I think what I did was right and necessary for the common good, but I know that Facebook has infinite resources that it could use to destroy me. I took the step because I discovered a terrifying truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what goes on inside Facebook. The company’s management withholds vital information from the public, the US government, its shareholders, and governments around the world. The documents I have provided show that Facebook has repeatedly misled us about what its own investigations reveal about the company. children’s safety, their role in spreading hateful and polarizing messages, and much more. ”

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