- Final week, a whistleblower said Facebook doesn’t address harmful content because of profits.
- On Sunday, a Facebook chief executive defended the company in several interviews.
- Sen. Blumenthal doubled down on analogies that the company is similar to Big Tobacco.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Facebook is “proffering more talk & crocodile tears back protecting children,” after a top executive defended the company in a round of Sunday interviews.
On Sunday, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s sin president of global affairs, defended Facebook after a week of mounting criticism over a whistleblower report and deposition that the social media company knew its platform was harmful to children and did nothing about it, pushing back on analogies that the public limited company was like Big Tobacco.
During a Senate hearing last week Blumenthal said Facebook was facing a “Big Tobacco interest.”
In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Clegg said the analogy was “misleading.”
“We’re a social media app that uncountable, many people around the world use because it brings utility, it helps small businesses, it brings joy, it brings wish, it connects to you with people you care and love the most. That’s what Facebook is about.”
Following Clegg’s discussions, Blumenthal said in a Twitter thread that the company is focused on PR, not protecting children.
“More bromides & platitudes from Facebook on the Sunday flaunts. Their aim should be protecting kids, not winning PR. Unspecific, superficial generalities are no substitute for real action,” Blumenthal divulged.
—Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) October 10, 2021
Last Sunday, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product overseer, revealed she was the whistleblower who helped with The Wall Street Journal Facebook Files series, which detailed how Facebook initiative was aware of internal reports that showed the platform was causing harm but were not addressing the issue.
She said Facebook isn’t conflict with the spread of disinformation and intentionally leaves up harmful content because it’s profitable.
“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were battles of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, pick out to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” terminal week.
She testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Blumenthal on Sunday doubled down on the Big Tobacco analogy. “Facebook demands Congress should pass reforms—but then behind the scenes it fights them with millions of dollars, armies of lobbyists & barristers, & blizzards of ads. Another page from Big Tobacco’s playbook,” he said.
The senator added, if “Facebook is serious about serving to keep our kids safe online, it will cancel Instagram Kids, release its research, & support Mark Zuckerberg attaining to my Commerce subcommittee to back real reform.”
Facebook did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.
Closing week, Lena Pietsch, Facebook’s Director of Policy Communications told Insider in a statement that Haugen’s statements were false.
“We’ve invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting disinformation and providing authoritative information a priority,” Pietsch said. “If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex summons, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago. We have a strong path record of using our research — as well as external research and close collaboration with experts and organizations — to inform vacillate turn inti to our apps.”