Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed as “whistleblower” behind leaked documents that plunged the company into scandal

LEVEL (Advanced)

Complete English grammar course

Advanced English Reading Lessons

Lesson 1 (60 minutes)

    • 5 minutes Conversation and discussion

    • 30 minutes: Reading

    • 20 minutes Writing

    • 5 minutes Conversation and discussion

Read the text below then answer the questions below:

CLICK HERE to write your answer

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed as “whistleblower” behind leaked documents that plunged the company into scandal

Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen has been revealed as the source behind tens of thousands of pages of leaked internal company research, which she says show that the company has been negligent in eliminating violence, misinformation, and other harmful content from its services, and that it has misled investors about these efforts.

For Facebook, the document leak—and the public reveal of the source—represents perhaps the most significant crisis in the company’s history, further deteriorating relationships between the company and Washington politicians. The company is the target of a historic federal antitrust case and is fielding document requests as members of Congress investigate its role in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Widely referred to as a “Facebook whistleblower” responsible for leaking documents behind a Wall Street Journal series, Haugen spoke publicly about her complaint to federal authorities, disclosing her identity for the first time in an interview airing Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”

“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said in the interview.

A veteran of tech companies including Pinterest, Yelp, and Google, Haugen, 37, left Facebook in May after developing serious reservations about the company’s policies, particularly surrounding the events of January 6. Before the 2020 election, Haugen said, Facebook implemented measures to prevent the spread of misinformation, but the company decided to dissolve many of these protections after the election. She said she stopped trusting that her employer was willing to limit growth to improve public safety.

For weeks, revelations from the documents, which were at the center of the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” series, have bolstered claims that Facebook’s researchers and executives have a deep understanding of the ways its products harm people—beyond what had been previously known to the public and key policymakers. The wide-ranging documents represent an unprecedented look inside Facebook’s struggles with an assortment of problems including child safety, political polarization, human trafficking, and drug cartels.

Andrew Bakaj, who represents Haugen at Whistleblower Aid, said it was “immediately clear” that she had materials that were critical for lawmakers and regulators seeking to hold the company accountable.

“She’s a perfect example of why whistleblowers are so important: Without her, we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Bakaj told The Post.

Facebook has sought to deny and deflect the revelations, downplaying the documents in blog posts, interviews, and congressional testimony. Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, appeared Sunday morning on CNN, calling allegations that the company is to blame for the violence on January 6 “ludicrous.” (The company’s top executives, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, have not addressed the reports.)

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have demanded that Facebook turn over documents pertaining to its handling of the January 6 insurrection, including an order from the House select committee investigating the matter to preserve communications on its platforms related to the riot at the Capitol.

Despite repeated pleas from lawmakers to make more of its research public, so far the company has turned over two partially redacted slide decks looking at Instagram’s impact on children and teens’ mental health, along with annotations downplaying their findings.

Haugen addressed the findings about social media’s impact on teen girls in the “60 Minutes” interview.

As these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed,” Haugen said. “And it actually makes them use the app more. And so, they end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.”

Haugen is going public with her findings amid a growing debate about the power and influence of the world’s largest tech companies and a growing push from countries worldwide to pursue regulation.

It’s important because Big Tech is at an inflection point,” said Bakaj, her lawyer. “It touches every aspect of our lives—whether it’s individuals personally or democratic institutions globally. With such far-reaching consequences, transparency is critical to oversight, and lawful whistleblowing is a critical component of oversight and holding companies accountable.”

Writing Exercise

CLICK HERE to write your answer

In 150 words write about the questions below.


    1. Does Facebook have a responsibility to stop the spread of misinformation? 
    2. What are some good things about Facebook? What are some bad things? 
    3. How was life different before social media? 
    4. Do you think people will ever stop using social media? 
    5. Do you think governments will every use social media to exercise control of the population?
Translate »
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap