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Podcast: Whistleblower testifies about Facebook’s amplification algorithm and misleading the public

USA Today | Claire Thornton | Oct 11, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg - Podcast:  Whistleblower testifies about Facebook's amplification algorithm and misleading the publicOn today's episode of 5 Things: Armed with tens of thousands of documents, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress this week, warning lawmakers that the company has repeatedly misled the public about how its platforms drive division and harm users, especially children.

Earlier in the week, Facebook saw one of its worst outages ever. Facebook's platforms were down for six hours and over three billion people were affected worldwide.

Facebook went down for a bit on Thursday, October 8, 2021 as well.

We've known for a long time that Facebook and Instagram have harmful effects and we've known we're probably a bit too dependent on the platforms.

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So why does this moment feel different?

Breaking news reporter Gabriela Miranda, tech reporter Mike Snider and politics reporter Matthew Brown sit down with host Claire Thornton to dissect Frances Haugen's Congressional testimony, explain what we know about Facebook's 'amplification' algorithm and discuss how everyday people had their lives upended by Facebook's massive outage last Monday.

Extract from the podcast discussion including Facebook's Amplification algorithm

Matt Brown:

This algorithm is causing extremism in communities, this algorithm is causing people to be angrier, but it's also causing them to be more engaged. And when researchers at Facebook brought this information to the top executives, they consistently said, these are the effects and if we want to make them better, we have solutions that would potentially make a lot of the issues that are going rampant on this platform better, but they would probably decrease engagement on some level.

Claire Thornton:

And they didn't do anything about it.

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Matt Brown:

And consistently Facebook's executives said, we are going to choose keeping people engaged, increasing the scale of our platforms, instead of saying, we're going to scale this down and maybe not grow as quickly and not increase profits as quickly. So the fact that we know from inside the company now, how definitively this went is what really makes this situation so much more of a game changer. Haugen actually compared Facebook's behavior on this issue to the tobacco companies before regulation came for them and to the automakers actually even before we were required to have seatbelts in our cars. So she's really taking this as a historic moment that needs regulation. She kept urging that this is something that Facebook is not going to correct on its own, that its executives have consistently shown that they are not interested in correcting this on their own, even though they know what they need to do. And that's why she's now turning to Congress and saying that someone from outside the company needs to act.

 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Podcast:  Whistleblower testifies about Facebook's amplification algorithm and misleading the public The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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