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Whistleblower Frances Haugen to appear before Facebook oversight board

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Whistleblower Frances Haugen to appear before Facebook oversight board
Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen will appear before the independent Facebook Oversight Board in the coming weeks, members announced Monday. Pool Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen will meet with the company's independent oversight board in the coming weeks, its members announced Monday.

In a statement, the Facebook Oversight Board said it invited Haugen to speak before the panel after she made "serious claims" about the company, including testifying before the Senate that it has long known about misinformation and hate speech on the platform and negative impacts on young users.

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"Board members appreciate the chance to discuss Ms. Haugen's experiences and gather information that can help push for greater transparency and accountability from Facebook through our case decisions and recommendations," board members said.

In testimony before lawmakers last week, Haugen, a former data scientist for the company, said Facebook's platforms, including Instagram, "harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy."

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She claimed the platforms' algorithms can quickly steer children from safe content like healthy recipes to content about eating disorders and that Facebook "knows that content that elicits an extreme reaction from you is more likely to get a click, a comment or a re-share."

Haugen added that understaffing issues prevent Facebook from properly moderating content, posing a threat to national security as the platform is "definitely" being used by "authoritarian or terrorist-based leaders" around the world.

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She also called for decisions about algorithms to be exempted from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from legal liability for content posted by their users.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the allegations in a message shared publicly and sent to company employees.

"We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health," he said.

The Facebook Oversight Committee is comprised of a group of 19 officers from outside the company, including human rights and legal experts, and reviews Facebook's moderation decisions.

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It has previously ruled against Facebook's decision to remove a post criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron. In May, it voted to uphold the decision to ban former President Donald Trump from the platform following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Facebook announced in April it would allow users to petition the board to remove flagged content from the platform.

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