Facebook whistleblower to headline Yale Law panel on tech's failures, fixes – Reuters

Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee in Washington, October 5, 2021. Matt McClain/Pool via REUTERS
(Reuters) – Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen has already appeared on “60 Minutes” and testified before Congress this week. Her next stop is a panel Thursday hosted by Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.
The three-hour online session, called “The Facebook Files: What’s Next?” is free and open to the public but has proven to be a hot ticket. Registration was already full by Wednesday morning, but organizers said they hope to make a recording available.
Documents leaked by Haugen and first reported by the Wall Street Journal showed company executives were aware of internal findings that Facebook and Instagram could negatively impact users — such as by harming the body image of teenage girls — but did not take action. Haugen also contends that Facebook has overstated the steps it has taken to counter hate and misinformation on its social media platforms.
"I'm here today because I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Haugen said Tuesday during closely watched testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.
Facebook has said it disagrees with Haugen's characterization and that she worked for the company for less than two years. Still, a company spokeswoman said this week that it supports the creation of internet standards.
Information Society Project director Nikolas Guggenberger declined to say when organizers secured Haugen's participation in Thursday's event. He credited the project's reputation and its network of connections in law and technology with helping to quickly lock in Haugen and other high-profile experts.
"I hope that people come away with a deeper understanding of what actually happened within Facebook, and a deeper understanding of what enabled this to happen at Facebook," he said. "And then we also want people to think about potential remedies and solutions."
The Yale Law panel is divided into two sessions. The first will feature activists and journalists, including Haugen and Wall Street Journal technology reporter Jeff Horwitz, lead author of the newspaper's Facebook Files series. They will “discuss the ongoing ability for people inside and outside technology companies to participate in shaping the space that is shaping them,” according to an announcement of the event.
The second session will feature academics discussing the “social and legal changes that need to take place to make technology better and safer.” Yale law professor Jack Balkin, Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout and Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily are among those scheduled to appear.
The discussion will be moderated by Guggenberger and St. John’s law professor Kate Klonick.
Read more:
What they said: Quotes from a Facebook hearing in Congress
Whistleblower says Facebook put profit before reining in hate speech
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