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Facebook whistleblower invited to speak to European Parliament

By Jake Thomas
Facebook whistleblower invited to speak to European Parliament
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. The European Parliament has asked Haugen to speak as lawmakers consider new social media regulations. Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The European Parliament has invited Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to speak before a committee that's considering new social media regulations.

Haugen, a data scientist and former employee of the social media giant, has recently gone public with criticism that Facebook has profited from stoking political divisions, spreading disinformation and harming the mental health of teenage girls. She made the remarks last week during a 60 Minutes segment and before a U.S. Senate panel.

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"I am here today because I believe that Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy," Haugen said during the Senate hearing.

Haugen has been invited to speak before the European Parliament's consumer protection committee scheduled for Nov. 8. The committee is discussing updates to European Internet regulations.

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Anna Cavazzini, the committee's chair, said in a statement that Haugen's revelations show that "corporate self-regulation has not worked" and that enhanced regulations were needed to stop the online spread of hate speech and disinformation.

"Whistleblowers like Frances Haugen show the urgent need to set democratic rules for the online world in the interest of users," Cavazzini said. "Her revelations lay bare the inherent conflict between the platform's business model and users' interests. It shows that we need strong rules for content moderation and far-reaching transparency obligations in Europe."

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In her Senate testimony, Haugen called for increased transparency into the company's algorithms and internal metrics that are used to boost user engagement and sell advertising.

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The Digital Services Act, one proposal in the European Parliament, aligns with the reforms being called for by Haugen and would compel social media companies to provide data to regulators, The New York Times reports.

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