Who is Francis Hagen, the engineer who wants to “save” Facebook | Technology

Who is Francis Hagen, the engineer who wants to "save" Facebook |  Technology

The 37-year-old worked on Mark Zuckerberg’s civil integrity team. He collected thousands of internal documents before leaving the company in May.

Facebook weakens democracy and threatens children, ex-president tells US Senate

The information leaked to the Wall Street Journal alerted several members of parliament, who quickly organized an inquiry into the safety of minors on the Internet.

Haugen emerged from anonymity last Sunday when he appeared on the US TV show “60 Minutes” on CBS (3). On Tuesday, he gave scathing testimony to members of parliament.

He said he saw a close friend getting lost in conspiracy theories. “It’s one thing to read misinformation and another to lose someone,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

He was hired by Facebook in 2019 hoping to help solve a number of problems. He says he cares more about the decisions the company makes.

Frances Haugen, former Facebook product manager – Photo: Drew Angerer/Pool

Haugen, an information engineer who describes himself as an algorithm expert, worked at several tech companies before joining Facebook: Google, the dating app Hinch, the business referral page Yelp and the network Pinterest.

On his newly created Twitter account, Haugen describes himself as a “Public Social Media Monitoring Aspirant”. His first words on stage: “Together, we can create social networks that bring out the best in us. »

Haugen, who is from Iowa, says on his blog that he participated in presidential campaigns during his childhood, along with his parents and teachers. “created a strong pride in the importance of democracy and citizen participation”.

He has volunteered several times at the Burning Man festival – a seven-day gathering that encouraged people to share, give or barter, “decommodification” and concern for the environment, echoing the spirit of hippies and 1960s counterculture in the Nevada desert. Every year before the epidemic – explain the rules of the event to the participants and help them resolve conflicts.

He told the Wall Street Journal that on May 17, shortly before 7 p.m., he logged out of Facebook’s internal network for the last time.

As if to justify himself, he left one last clue: “I don’t hate Facebook,” he wrote. “I love Facebook. I have to save him. »

She collected documents on Facebook until the last minute before leaving, fearing she would be caught in the act, and at the same time contacted an NGO that specializes in helping those who decide to disclose information.

What’s going on inside?

During an interview with CBS News, Hagen accused Facebook of “putting profits before security” and said he was “acting to promote change at the social media company, not to incite anger.”

He explains that to monetize ads, the social network needs to ensure its members are on the platform as much as possible. That’s why hateful content and conflicting sources get so much attention.

Before the last US presidential election, Facebook created teams to combat misinformation and changed its policies to reduce the spread of misinformation.

But the group, which sought to manage risks specific users or content could create during election time, was removed soon after the November 2020 US election.

Less than two months later, on January 6, Congress was invaded by crowds of supporters of Donald Trump, who did not recognize the victory of his successor, Joe Biden, in the polls.

It was at this point that Francis Haugen began to doubt the group’s willingness to devote sufficient resources to protecting its members.. Because Facebook, he promised, backs up its benefits.

In March, he traveled to Puerto Rico in hopes of working remotely, but the staff told him that wasn’t possible. So he decided to resign, he explained to the Wall Street Journal, and later disclosed the documents he had collected.

Facebook has spoken out against the outcry over its practices and their impact, but this is just the latest in a series of crises affecting one of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

“We advertise harmful content and it’s not true to suggest you do nothing about it,” Facebook said. g1 Last Monday (4).

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