Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has made her strongest call yet for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as CEO of her social media empire, saying business will be better off with a leader who focuses on user safety.
Frances Haugen said Facebook’s parent company, whose name changed last week to Meta, is unlikely to change if its founder remains in charge. Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, the former Facebook employee, who has leaked tens of thousands of internal documents detailing the company’s struggles with user safety and misinformation, also criticized Zuckerberg’s “inordinate” decision to invest. in your metaverse concept instead of focusing on fixing your current problems.
When asked if Zuckerberg should resign, Haugen said: “I think Facebook will be stronger with someone who is willing to focus on security, so yes.”
However, Haugen acknowledged that Zuckerberg’s control of Meta was a problem for any independent shareholder who might want a change at the top. Zuckerberg controls decision-making in the company through his majority ownership of the voting shares in Meta, making his position unassailable.
“Mark owns 54% of the voting shares in Facebook. He is the chairman and the chief executive officer and I believe that, at the very least, shareholders have the right to elect their chief executive officer. So I think the company is unlikely to change if he remains the CEO, ”Haugen said.
“And I hope I can see that there is so much good that I could do in the world, and maybe it’s an opportunity for someone else to take the reins.”
Haugen also criticized the strategic shift behind the company’s surprise rebranding last week, with Zuckerberg committing the business to a significant investment in the metaverse, a space where digital representations of people (avatars) interact at work and play, meeting in his office, going to concerts and even trying on clothes.
Haugen said documents he had provided to Congress, regulators and the press made clear that the company needed to spend more on basic security systems and not on an expansion to virtual reality.
Documents released by Haugen have revealed that Meta knew that its Instagram photo-sharing app had been accused of exacerbating adolescent mental health problems, that its own workers were dismayed that it had been unable to stop the spread of misinformation in the run up to the 6. January riots in Washington, and that Facebook was helping stoke ethnic violence in Ethiopia.
“I think there is a meta-problem in Facebook which is that again and again Facebook chooses to expand into new areas rather than keep landing on what they have already done and I find it inconceivable that, when reading the docs, it says very clearly it is necessary. that there are more resources in very basic security systems ”, he said.
Haugen added that his actions were driven by the belief that Facebook needed to change to save lives. “I really think there are a million, or maybe 10 million lives at stake in the next 20 years, and compared to that, nothing feels like a real consequence.”
Haugen’s appearance at the Web Summit follows his testimony in the United States Congress and in Westminster last month. In London, he told MPs and colleagues that external regulation was urgently needed to control the technology company’s management. Haugen spoke at a joint committee looking at the online safety bill, which imposes a duty of care on social media companies to protect users from harmful content. Meta’s apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, are used by 2.8 billion people on a daily basis.
In response to Haugen’s comments, a Meta spokesperson said: “The argument that we deliberately promote content that infuriates people for profit is deeply illogical. We are on track to spend more than $ 5 billion on security and protection in 2021, more than any other technology company, and we have 40,000 people to do one job: keeping people safe in our applications. “
The spokesperson added that Meta was able to invest in expansion and security at the same time. “Obviously, we can and should do both at the same time, and we do.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism