New Facebook Whistleblower Supports Other's Testimony

Washington Post interviews former employee
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2021 3:35 PM CDT
New Whistleblower Supports Haugen's Facebook Claims
Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, left, and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal face former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen during a hearing earlier this month on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Another former Facebook employee has told the SEC that profit and growth are more important to the company than stopping misinformation and hate speech. The allegations by a former member of Facebook's Integrity team were made in a new affidavit for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which carries penalties for perjury, the Washington Post reports. The Post has reviewed a copy of the filing and interviewed but did not identify the whistleblower. Many of the whistleblower's accusations are similar to those made earlier this month by Frances Haugen, who testified before a Senate subcommittee.

Among them is a communications official's dismissive attitude toward Russia's use of Facebook to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The affidavit quotes Tucker Bounds, a Facebook communications official, as saying: "It will be a flash in the pan. Some legislators will get pissy. And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine." Bounds told the Post that "being asked about a purported one-on-one conversation four years ago with a faceless person, with no other sourcing than the empty accusation itself, is a first for me."

The whistleblower said Bounds' quote reflects the attitude in Facebook about troublesome, even illegal, content in Facebook Groups. The company undercut efforts to block misinformation and hate speech, the affidavit said. The former employee said Facebook didn't want to upset then-President Donald Trump or endanger the user growth driving profits. In one meeting, the whistleblower said, the leader of the Public Policy team defended not applying rules on misinformation to Breitbart News by saying, "Do you want to start a fight with Steve Bannon?"

Haugen, who also took her complaints to the SEC, met this week with leaders of the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. House legislation is in the works that could ease the grip Facebook and other tech giants have on the market, per Politico. Facebook issued a statement critical of the Post's report on the new whistleblower. "It sets a dangerous precedent to hang an entire story on a single source making a wide range of claims without any apparent corroboration," a spokeswoman said. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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