Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Frances Haugen

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during an October 5, 2021 U.S. Senate hearing—entitled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower"—on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In Scathing Senate Testimony, Whistleblower Warns Facebook a Threat to Children and Democracy

Frances Haugen said the company's leaders know how to make their platforms safer, "but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people."

Brett Wilkins

Two days after a bombshell "60 Minutes" interview in which she accused Facebook of knowingly failing to stop the spread of dangerous lies and hateful content, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified Tuesday before U.S. senators, imploring Congress to hold the company and its CEO accountable for the many harms they cause.

"In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people."

Haugen—a former Facebook product manager—told the senators she went to work at the social media giant because she believed in its "potential to bring out the best in us."

"But I'm here today because I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy," she said during her opening testimony. "The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people."

"The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages," she continued. "I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of truth."

"I saw Facebook repeatedly encounter conflicts between its own profits and our safety," Haugen added. "Facebook consistently resolved its conflicts in favor of its own profits."

"In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people," she said.

Addressing Monday's worldwide Facebook outage, Haugen said that "for more than five hours, Facebook wasn't used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies."

"It also means that millions of small businesses weren't able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren't joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world," she added. "I believe in the potential of Facebook. We can have social media we enjoy that connects us without tearing apart our democracy, putting our children in danger, and sowing ethnic violence around the world. We can do better."

Doing better will require Congress to act, because Facebook "won't solve this crisis without your help," Haugen told the senators, echoing experts and activists who continue to call for breaking up tech giants, banning the surveillance capitalist business model, and protecting rights and democracy online.

She added that "there is nobody currently holding Zuckerberg accountable but himself," referring to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)—chair of the Senate Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Subcommittee—called on Zuckerberg to testify before the panel.

"Mark Zuckerberg ought to be looking at himself in the mirror today and yet rather than taking responsibility, and showing leadership, Mr. Zuckerberg is going sailing," he said.

"Big Tech now faces a Big Tobacco, jaw-dropping moment of truth. It is documented proof that Facebook knows its products can be addictive and toxic to children," Blumenthal continued.

"The damage to self-interest and self-worth inflicted by Facebook today will haunt a generation," he added. "Feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, rejection, and self-hatred will impact this generation for years to come. Our children are the ones who are victims."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·


'We're Not Stopping': Weeklong D.C. Climate Protests End With 650+ Arrests, Vows to Fight On

"There is no other planet to escape to. Water is life... They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries."

Brett Wilkins ·



Ousted by AOC, Joe Crowley Now Lobbying Against Tax Hikes on Corporate Giants

The former chair of the House Democratic Caucus once called the GOP's 2017 tax law a "scam," but now he's collaborating with Wall Street to undermine attempts at progressive reform.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Corporate Fraud at Its Worst': J&J Hides Behind Bankruptcy Amid Baby Powder Lawsuits

"Here we go again," said Elizabeth Warren. "Another giant corporation is abusing our bankruptcy system."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo