Gold standard for social media: Facebook whistleblower Haugen praises EU digital laws

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen was received like a savior, as if she had testified before the European Parliament on Monday evening. Even before the he

Gold standard for social media: Facebook whistleblower Haugen praises EU digital laws

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen was received like a savior, as if she had testified before the European Parliament on Monday evening. Even before the hearing, individual members of Parliament published selfies with the whistleblower. Then every half-important word was relayed via Twitter. Haugen was praised for having the courage to get involved with the American company, which now calls itself Meta, received applause. What a difference from the hearing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg three years ago. He had to listen to the then leader of the Liberal group, Guy Verhofstadt, that he was "a genius who created a digital monster that destroys our democracies".

Hendrik Kafsack Business correspondent in Brussels.

With her revelations of Facebook's business practices, Haugen has not only, according to the MEPs, provided confirmation that the group puts profit above the well-being of its users – which, unsurprisingly, he denies. At the hearing, Meta made it clear that current developments such as the elections in Germany did not provide evidence that Facebook and other social media were contributing to polarization. "The decisions made by the management of Facebook are a big problem, for children, for public security and for democracy,"repeated theagainst.The company does too little to prevent the spread of false news and hate speech, the algorithms preferentially presented the content that provoked anger to the users. In addition, it contributes to the fact that children and adolescents are taught a problematic body image.

Against misinformation and for more transparency

Haugen has said all this several times since she revealed herself in October as the source of the "Facebook Files" published by the Wall Street Journal.Even more: all this was not surprising when the "Files" were published. Nevertheless, Haugen's hearing has political weight. Finally, the European Parliament and the Member States are currently negotiating two laws that are supposed to limit the power of Facebook and the other Internet giants and control their business practices: the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA).The DSA is intended to curb the spread of false information.To this end, the companies should, among other things, create more transparency about how the algorithms work that recommend certain content to users.

The Greens and Social Democrats want to go even further and ban personalized advertising. After all, the business model of Facebook and other platform operators is based on making money through such ads – and this works particularly well by luring users through exciting content such as hate speech or fake news.Liberals and Christian Democrats are taking this too far. Not only this threatens to delay the negotiations on the law.

Updated Date: 10 November 2021, 00:00

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