In early October, whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, testified before a Senate subcommittee, providing damning testimony that offered a glimpse behind Facebook’s notoriously secretive veil, alleging the social media platform harms children, propagates political division, and undermines democracy, all while expanding global influence and making “astronomical profits.”
Whistleblowers are often referred to as “rats,” but whistleblowers can change how companies operate and help stop employers from committing violations or unlawful activities. Whistleblowers play vital roles when work environments desperately need change because of toxicity. The Los Angeles employment attorneys at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers take pride in protecting workers who take a stand for the right reasons.
A Whistleblower Changing the Wide World’s Web
Frances Haugen’s testimony to U.S. lawmakers suggested Facebook needed a federal regulator overseeing their operation. She leveled allegations detailing how the social media goliath uses algorithms to fuel online extremism and hate while neglecting to protect children from harmful content, and providing no incentives to fix these problems.
Haugen cited internal documents she covertly copied before leaving her job in Facebook’s civic integrity unit. Her statements were backed up by the evidence found in the Facebook Papers—a wealth of redacted internal documents obtained by various news organizations. These documents support the social network’s prioritizing profits over their users’ safety.
Haugen described algorithms that pushed people with mainstream engagement into extremist views, explaining how Facebook intentionally did not add available moderators to prevent the spread of extremist views.
Facebook’s net income grew 17% to more than $9 billion in the July-September period—a higher profit than the last quarter and up from last year’s $7.85 billion. These results surpassed expectations.
After Haugen’s testimony, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he welcomed “good faith criticism” but claimed Haugen’s allegations and the leaked documents were a concerted effort to sully Facebook’s brand. Facebook shares rose 2.5% and closed the day of the hearing with a 1% increase.
Zuckerberg agreed that additional regulation was needed on all social media platforms to help make decisions on issues like:
- Content harmful to children
- The incitement of political violence
- The spread of misinformation
Haugen also spoke to a British parliamentary committee, spurring interest by European nations to write legislation restricting the power of not just Facebook but all social media companies. Starting next year, British internet users will have additional protections, holding tech companies more responsible by adding penalties of up to 10% of global revenues for violations. The European Union has proposed similar penalties.
When should I contact a lawyer?
The termination of whistleblowing employees is prohibited by California law. As retribution, employers often try to intimidate employees for following their moral compass or doing what is right. Employers have a list of weapons geared toward employees pushing back against unlawful violations, including:
- Not promoting
- Withholding benefits and wages
The Los Angeles employment attorneys at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers utilize aggressive and comprehensive approaches to position you in the best place to succeed. From the initial client consultation to the final verdict, we stand with you.
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