Inside the Facebook whistleblower saga

A scorching series of revelations has cast Facebook’s murky dealings and corporate failings into the light. Is it finally the end of the road for the social network?

Things aren’t looking good for Facebook. Perhaps thats an understatement. According to a series of investigations carried out by the Wall Street Journal

Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management.

Which sounds and is terrible. But its nothing the company hasnt tried to sort out, right? Well herein lies the problem. As the Journal report continues:

Time and again, the documents show, Facebooks researchers have identified the platforms ill effects. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didnt fix them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebooks problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself.

Backed by documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the report found Facebooks impact was particularly troubling for teenage girls, with Instagram (owned by Facebook) found to be harmful for a sizeable percentage of teenagers, particularly when it comes to their mental health. 

Frances Haugen, the whistleblower at the heart of the story

Meanwhile, other documents examined by the Journal found Facebook employees had repeatedly flagged concerns over how the platform is used in developing countries, especially in regard to drug smuggling, human trafficking (Employees flagged that human traffickers in the Middle East used the site to lure women into abusive employment situations), inciting violence against ethnic minorities, organ selling, pornography, and government action against political dissent. According to the Journal report, the documents they have obtained also show the companys response, which in many instances is inadequate or nothing at all.

The report also found Facebook allowed the spread of inaccurate information to go unchecked. 

Add this to the outage that sunk Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and more earlier this month thanks to the loss of IP routes to the Facebook Domain Name System (DNS) servers and theres plenty of reasons to be angry. Indeed, Wired recently published an article titled How to Permanently Delete Your Facebook AccountIf you’ve finally hit your breaking point, here’s how to say goodbye to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire.” 

This isnt the first time the social network has come under fire and with Haugen set to testify against Facebook in the US and possibly elsewhere, the saga is far from over. But will this be the scandal that finally sinks Zuckerbergs empire, or simply just another batch of negative headlines to ride out?

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