EXPLAINED: MSU expert breaks down Facebook whistleblower’s claims


EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — This comes one day after CBS’s 60-minute report put Facebook in the spotlight. A former employee says the company encourages posts of misinformation, hate speech, and conflict to make sure users stay on the site longer.

Normally you like or comment on several posts while scrolling through Facebook. But experts say people are more likely to engage with topics that make them angry or frustrated, and they stay online longer.

“Facebook over and over again chooses profit over safety. It is subsidizing it’s paying with its profits with our safety,” said Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to 60 minutes on Sunday.

Haugen is also a former employee, and she says it’s causing more harm than good, and artificial intelligence experts here are in Lansing agree.
“Engagement is the thing that gets likes and clicks, and their model of making money is that they monetize the clicks, the views. So the things that are more polarizing that is more profitable for Facebook,” said Anjana Susarla, a Michigan State University Omura-Saxena professor in Responsible Artificial intelligence

Facebook told CBS’s 60 minutes they try to balance free speech while tackling misinformation and harmful content. Susarla says they could do more by adjusting their algorithm and being transparent.

“Deemphasise the misinformation and like their trending algorithms. Because what you see in the Facebook news feed is not what necessarily I decide that I want to see all this. It’s what Facebook has decided to show you,” said Susarla.

“Facebook realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site. They’ll click on less ads, they make less money,” Haugen told 60 minutes.

She also says lawmakers should hold the social networking website accountable. Users should also be more aware of the content they engage with.
“I think each of us are making a choice. Don’t like and engage with a post because when you do you are causing that post to be promoted and other people to see it. Each of us should make a choice. This content is misinformation, or it’s harmful let me not contribute to the spread,” she said.

Haugen wants the U.S. Congress to impose regulations and she is expected to testify tomorrow.

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