Whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee responsible for leaks linked to Facebook’s struggles with user misinformation and safety, says the company should be prioritising online safety over the new Meta restructure.
The parent company for Facebook announced its rebrand to Meta last week, CEO Zuckerberg detailing plans for creating a digital world known as the “metaverse”. Zuckerberg stated that “We believe the metaverse will be the successor of the mobile internet,”
“We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.”
This rebrand has come as the company faces serious PR and regulatory challenges, including the documents leaked by Haugen. These documents included the company’s knowledge of its negative, long-term impact on public health, and other questionable business practices.
Haugen, speaking at Lisbon’s Web Summit, criticised Zuckerberg’s “unconscionable” move pushing forward with the metaverse concept rather than focusing attention on its current safety issues.
When asked if the Meta CEO should step down, the Guardian reports, Haugen claimed “I think Facebook will be stronger with someone who is willing to focus on safety, so yes,”
However, Haugen was also reported commenting that “Mark holds 54% of the voting shares in Facebook. He is the chairman and the CEO and I think that at a minimum the shareholders have the right to actually choose their CEO. And so I think it is unlikely the company will change if he remains the CEO.”
“And I hope that he can see that there is so much good he could do in the world, and maybe it’s a chance for someone else to maybe take the reins.”
A Meta spokesperson has responded to Haugen’s comments, stating that “We are on track to spend more than $5bn on safety and security in 2021 – more than any other tech company – and have 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on our apps.”