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Facebook whistleblower Haugen launches nonprofit for healthier social media

by SuperiorInvest

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen reacts during an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting with German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht in Berlin, Germany, November 3, 2021.

Michele Tantussi | Reuters

Ex Facebook Whistleblower-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen announced a new nonprofit Thursday to make social media healthier.

The new group appears to be building on solutions she proposed to lawmakers and social media companies themselves about how to make the platforms safer, based in part on her experience as a former product manager on Facebook’s citizen disinformation team.

Haugen has become a household name since the leak of tens of thousands of pages of internal documents and beyond revealing her identity on “60 Minutes” last year. She too testified before Congress.

“Beyond the Screen” will begin by creating an open-source database of ways “Big Tech is failing in its legal and ethical obligations to society,” according to a press release, and detail potential solutions. The group calls the project “Duty of Care,” which aims to identify gaps in online harm research and come up with ways to fill them.

The content of the leaked documents, which Haugen also provided to lawmakers and the Securities and Exchange Commission, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. These reports detailed the company’s knowledge of its products sometimes harmful effects on children and adolescents, different content moderation standards for high-profile accounts and combating potentially harmful content in different languages ​​and cultural contexts.

Facebook has previously said the documents were cherry-picked and their framing skewed away from potentially positive interpretations of the data. Facebook’s parent company Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Haugen’s new venture.

Haugen has recently pushed for specific laws in the US and abroad aimed at making social media safer for children. Haugen expressed her support for the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which was recently signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. The law will require many platforms to design their services with children’s privacy and safety in mind, preventing them from nudging minors to provide personal or location information, among other things. Technology industry groups argued that the language was too broad and burdensome on many platforms.

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