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Fb whistleblower behind huge leak will testify in Europe


Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, says during the hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transport Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security titled Children’s Online Safety-Facebook Whistleblower on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at the Russell- Building out.

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

LONDON – The Facebook whistleblower who leaked internal company research showing Instagram can be harmful to teens is set to testify in Europe.

After her appearance in Congress, Frances Haugen will now testify before MEPs in the British Parliament, according to a statement published on Monday.

She will appear in a parliamentary committee on October 25, making her testimony for the first time in Europe, the statement said.

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, told a Senate panel last week that the company’s leadership is prioritizing “profits over people,” and called on lawmakers to intervene.

It comes after the whistleblower leaked internal Facebook studies to the Wall Street Journal in which the company found its Instagram app was harmful to teenage girls.

Over the weekend, Facebook chief spokesman Nick Clegg said the social media company would roll out new features to keep teens away from harmful content and encourage long-time users to “take a break”.

“There needs to be more transparency in the decisions companies like Facebook make when they trade user safety for user engagement,” said Damian Collins, UK MP and chair of the government’s joint committee on the government’s online safety law.

Collins made a name for himself in 2018 when he confronted Facebook in a series of parliamentary hearings over the Cambridge Analytica data-gathering scandal.

The UK government is now introducing new laws that would impose a duty of care on digital giants to ensure they monitor and act against illegal or harmful material online. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to 10% of annual global sales or £ 18 million ($ 24 million), whichever is greater.

Meanwhile, EU lawmaker has also invited Haugen to attend a hearing on whistleblowers in technology on November 8, though it’s not yet clear whether she has granted her request.

“Whistleblowers like Frances Haugen show the urgent need to lay down democratic rules for the online world in the interests of users,” said Anna Cavazzini, Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, in a statement on Monday.

“Your revelations expose the inherent conflict between the platform’s business model and the interests of its users.”

The European Union has its own plans to regulate big tech. The block is working to introduce two breakthrough laws – the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act – that aim to stamp out toxic content and increase competition.