Friday, December 3

The Facebook whistleblower asks the EU to regulate it: “It is one of the most urgent threats”

“It is one of the most urgent threats to European citizens.” This is how Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, began her speech this Monday in the European Parliament: “I entered Facebook because I thought I could work to bring out the best in us. But the truth is that it is dedicated to weakening democracy and doing damage to children by putting profits ahead of the people. Facebook hurts the health of our democracies and their integrity. Democracies have to do what they always do: change the laws. ”

Precisely the European Union is at a time of legislative reforms of the digital environment, with laws on digital services that are in the process of negotiation between institutions and within the European Parliament. “The EU must take this very seriously,” Haugen said: “The digital services law can be a wake-up call that inspires others, like my country, to do better and protect our democracies. The law has to. to be firm, if it is not good it can cause opposite effects to the wished ones, and its application also. Otherwise we will lose the opportunity of a better future for the technology and the democracy “.

“It’s not a question of some users being unstable,” Haugen said: “Facebook became a million-dollar company risking the safety of children. Hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside. The safety of children, hate messages … New rules are needed, European law has great potential, a neutral approach is needed to end this harmful business model. ”

The complainant affirms that “the ranking systems of issues is one of the main threats to our society. New rules are needed for recommending content and using neutral content instruments to avoid damage in electoral processes and in the minds of young people. I have read the DSA rules [ley europea de servicios digitales]But if you want neutral rules, you have to be neutral. If it is not done well, the legal position can be weakened. Done right, the EU can change the situation around the world and get platforms to take the risk for society and not just profit maximization; respect for freedom of expression and the protection of people must be combined. We have already been at this crossroads, as with the tobacco companies when they said that tobacco was safe. It was just a commercial message. It was a threat to human health. ”

The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, met this Monday with Haugen and MEP Christel Schaldemose, rapporteur for the Digital Services Law (DSA). Breton has stated: “We have seen the impact that major platforms can have on our democracies and societies, including the well-being of our children. With the Digital Services Act (DSA), we now have the tools to hold platforms accountable for transparency. algorithms, data use and risk mitigation. Ultimately, it is the CEO and the board who are responsible for the actions of your company. The digital sphere is no exception. Europe is serious about regulating things. which still looks like a digital wild west. Speed ​​is everything – we need the legislative package to be adopted in the first half of 2022. We also need to be extremely ambitious in our response. The biggest lobbying efforts we have witnessed are in vain We will not allow corporate interests to interfere with the best interests of European citizens. ”

The MEP for Citizens and president of the Legal Affairs committee, Adrián Vázquez, thanked Haugen “for the courage shown by publicly denouncing the bad practices of one of the biggest technological giants. Large technology companies accumulate more power than most companies and many States. Facebook could be prioritizing the benefit over democratic coexistence, especially so that its algorithm multiplies harmful content. The difference with others is that the latter has been discovered. ”

The president of the Freedom Commission, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (PSOE), has affirmed: “His revelations are important, they show an attack on fundamental rights. Data and algorithms have an increasing impact on the information available to users. There are problems for pluralism and freedom of the press, there is a climate of violations of fundamental rights of users, and self-regulation fails flagrantly. ”

Haugen wanted to warn of the “risks to democracy inherent in the ranking of Facebook topics: it is dangerous because people are attracted to the most extreme content. We pay much more attention to the most extreme, most divisive, it also happens in the advertising. That is why I, this system that amplifies divisive content erodes democracies. The dignity of people is being violated for profit. ”

Criticisms of metaverse

Metaverse, Facebook’s new project president Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t convince Haugen either. “It worries me a lot. It shows a meta-problem of Facebook, because they want to prioritize growth and profits instead of doing what they have done well. With 10,000 engineers they will make video games, but they will not work on security. It is indefensible.”

“As for direct damage,” says the complainant, “I am concerned that there are more sensors in our homes and offices. For the metaverse, the user has to expose himself a lot, and Facebook lies every time it suits him, as if to fill sensors of houses of a company that is not transparent. ”

Haugen has granted something: “What I do like is that it will be more on a human scale, that it will work with groups of up to 10. That is a more secure environment than large Facebook groups.”

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