A senator urged on Tuesday federal regulators to investigate a whistleblower’s accusations that Facebook favored profits over user safety.
Chair Senator Richard Blumenthal said in his statement to the Senate Commerce subcommittee that Facebook knew their platform was addictive.
“Tech now faces that big tobacco jaw-dropping moment of truth,” he said.
He called the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify in front of the committee.
He also called for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission to start investigating the company.
“Our children are the ones who are victims. Teens today looking in the mirror feel doubt and insecurity,” Blumenthal said.
“Mark Zuckerberg ought to look at himself in the mirror,” he continued, adding that Zuckerberg was going on a trip.
Additionally, the subcommittee’s top Republican, Marsha Blackburn, said that Facebook ignored the existence of 13-year-olds on its platform.
Besides, “It is clear that Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users,” she said.
Kevin McAlister, a Facebook spokesperson, said ahead of the hearing that the company prioritized a safe community over increasing profits.
He added that the leaked internal research was inaccurate about Instagram being ‘toxic’ for teenagers.
Facebook whistleblower defense
Frances Haugen, former product manager at Facebook, said the company keeps its algorithms and operations classified.
“A critical starting point for effective regulation is transparency,” she said in her testimony to the subcommittee.
“On this foundation, we can build sensible rules and standards to address consumer harms, illegal content, data protection, anticompetitive practices, algorithmic systems and more.”
Haugen said she provided the documents which Wall Street Journal used in its investigation.
The documents were also used in a Senate hearing on the dangers of Instagram and teenage girls.
The Journal’s investigation showed that the company failed in reducing vaccine hesitancy when it changed its content algorithm.
Moreover, Facebook was aware that Instagram caused harm to the mentality of teenage girls.
She added that the company did not contribute to preventing people planning violence from using the platform.
Furthermore, people planning mass murder in Myanmar and the January 6 assault on the US Capitol used the platform.