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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021

New Facebook whistleblower claims execs downplayed Russian interference, hate speech: report

New Facebook whistleblower claims execs downplayed Russian interference, hate speech: report

The claims purportedly corroborated many recent allegations by Frances Haugen, another former Facebook employee

A new whistleblower has come forward with allegations that Facebook officials prioritized profit over their efforts to contain the spread of hate speech and misinformation on the social media platform, according to a report Friday.

The whistleblower, identified as a former Facebook employee and members of the company’s Integrity division, made the allegations in an affidavit to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Washington Post reported.

The claims purportedly corroborated many recent allegations by Frances Haugen, another former Facebook employee who delivered damning testimony about the company’s practices on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.


The new whistleblower said Facebook officials were often indifferent about public concerns regarding problematic content or undercut efforts to respond due to concerns about political blowback from then-President Donald Trump and damage to the company’s bottom line.

The affidavit, dated Oct. 13 detailed one incident in 2017 in which a Facebook communications executive purportedly dismissed concerns about public backlash regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"It will be a flash in the pan. Some legislators will get pissy," Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds said, according to the whistleblower. "And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile, we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine."

Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaks during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington.


The new whistleblower’s identity has not been publicly disclosed.

A Facebook representative slammed the report in a statement obtained by the Post.

"This is beneath the Washington Post, which during the last five years competed ferociously with the New York Times over the number of corroborating sources its reporters could find for single anecdotes in deeply reported, intricate stories," Facebook spokeswoman Erin McPike said. "It sets a dangerous precedent to hang an entire story on a single source making a wide range of claims without any apparent corroboration."

The latest allegations surfaced as Facebook contends with unprecedented criticism from lawmakers regarding its business practices. Damning media reports published by the Wall Street Journal and other outlets detailed internal Facebook documents indicating executives were aware the platform was causing public harm.

The Journal’s series was based on documents provided by Haugen, who has called on Congress to regulate Facebook.

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