Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen reacts during an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting with German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht November 3, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
Michele Tantussi | Reuters
Former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen announced Thursday a new nonprofit with a goal to make social media healthier.
The new group appears to be building on the solutions she herself has proposed to lawmakers and social media companies for making platforms more secure, based in part on her experience as a former product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team.
Haugen has become a well-known figure since releasing tens of thousands of pages of internal documents last year and later revealing her identity on 60 Minutes. She also testified before Congress.
“Beyond the Screen” will begin building an open-source database detailing how “big tech is failing to meet its legal and ethical obligations to society,” according to a press release, and detailing potential solutions. The group is calling this a “Duty of Care” project that aims to identify gaps in online harm research and find ways to fill them.
The contents of the leaked documents, which Haugen also turned over to lawmakers and the Securities and Exchange Commission, were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. These reports detailed the company’s knowledge of the sometimes harmful effects of its product on children and young people, the varying standards of content moderation for high-profile accounts, and the struggle to deal with potentially harmful content in different languages and cultural contexts.
Facebook has previously said the documents were cherry-picked and their framing deviated from potentially positive interpretations of the data. Facebook parent company Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Haugen’s new venture.
Haugen has recently advocated for specific laws in the United States and abroad aimed at making social media safer for children. Haugen expressed support for the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act recently passed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law will require many platforms to design their services with children’s privacy and safety in mind, preventing them from tricking minors into disclosing personal or location information, among other things. Technology industry groups argued that the language on many platforms is too broad and cumbersome.
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