Facebook Inc. whistleblower Frances Haugen testified to Congress Tuesday on internal documents showing harms from the company’s products—from teenagers’ mental-health problems to poisoned political debate—adding fuel to efforts to pass tougher regulations on Big Tech.
The documents gathered by Ms. Haugen, which provided the foundation for The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series, show how the company’s moderation rules favor elites; how its algorithms foster discord; and how drug cartels and human traffickers use its services openly.
“I saw Facebook repeatedly encounter conflicts between its own profit and our safety. Facebook consistently resolved these conflicts in favor of its own profits,” Ms. Haugen told a Senate consumer protection subcommittee. “As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable. Until the incentives change, Facebook will not change.”
Ms. Haugen singled out Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for criticism, citing his control over the company. Mr. Zuckerberg controls about 58% of Facebook’s voting shares, according to an April regulatory filing.
“There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself,” she said. Facebook under Mr. Zuckerberg makes decisions based on how they will affect measurements of user engagement, rather than their potential downsides for the public, she said.
“Mark has built an organization that is very metrics-driven,” she said. “The metrics make the decision. Unfortunately that itself is a decision.”