Fb “doesn’t hearken to the basic objections addressed to it”

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Lille (AFP) – The departure of number 2 Meta / Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, is unlikely to change much in the behavior of the California giant, said in an interview with AFP Frances Haugen, a former employee who accuses Facebook of systematically favoring its profits at the expense of its users’ safety

After 14 years in the group, which under her leadership became the big internet, Sheryl Sandberg announced last week that she was leaving Meta.

The choice of his replacement, Javier Olivan, shows that the group “does not listen to the fundamental criticism that is directed at it,” says the whistleblower.

Announcing his promotion, Meta (Facebook) boss and founder Mark Zuckerberg praised Javier Olivan’s “solid balance sheet”, which has so far been in charge of commercial “growth” on Facebook.

This department embodies “many things I consider problematic” in the company, emphasizes Frances Haugen, who is participating in the International Cyber ​​Security Forum (FIC) in Lille on Thursday afternoon through a video conference.

Asked about these AFP statements, Meta did not react immediately.

Facebook’s commercial and financial growth has been accompanied by growing distrust of the social impact of the social network, prompted by questions about the platform’s role in attempts at misinformation and electoral manipulation.

According to Frances Haugen, if Sheryl Sandberg has not always been able to oppose Mark Zuckerberg, it is she who has tried to respond to criticism of Facebook’s role.

“It was she who set up services that took care of the safety of people living in sensitive places, such as Ethiopia,” she said, alluding to Facebook’s “response strategy” team, which is able to intervene quickly. in a crisis situation.

Frances Haugen, on the other hand, is “cautiously optimistic” about the development of things on Twitter, another major social network under attack for its role in disinformation, which multibillionaire Elon Musk plans to buy and withdraw from stocks. Exchange.

Frances Haugen speaks on March 3, 2022 at a conference in Stanford, California, USA Kimberly White GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / Archives

“Part of the reason why Facebook makes bad decisions is that it is a public company,” she said. If Musk takes Twitter off the stock market, “he will have the opportunity to do what is necessary” without fear of lowering the share price, she said.

Elon Musk especially wants Twitter to take much stronger measures against orders launched by robots, with the risk of reducing the audience of the social network, and thus its advertising resources.

Security more “taken seriously”

In general, the young woman does not regret that she took on the role of a global whistleblower on the excesses of social networks.

“I was really encouraged that leaders around the world are paying serious attention to us,” she said. “Many journalists have told me that security conversations on Facebook are taken much more seriously internally, thanks to my findings.”

Facebook has doubled its annual security spending from $ 2.5 billion to $ 5 billion, she says.

Generally speaking, Frances Haugen welcomes the ongoing debates in the United States on social media and welcomes the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new European law that seeks to bring some order to the digital jungle.

And it continues its struggle: to make social networks more transparent about their algorithms and the way they influence thinking and behavior.

It raises funds to create social media simulation tools that scientists could use to study the effects of algorithms in detail.

“Debates on social media and what they should be have changed,” she said.

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