Facebook Angry Emoji
Facebook may have a new name, but a rebrand won’t erase the multiple recent disclosures illustrating how destructive the company is for society — and how harmful it is for its own investors.
The revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen were shocking but not surprising. According to Haugen, who worked for the tech giant on election security matters before leaving and turning over a large cache of documents to the press, lawmakers and regulators, Facebook consistently knew that its algorithms were harming society and the vulnerable, with reprehensible actions like pushing so-called “thin-spiration” to teenage girls, which can increase the likelihood of anorexia.
A recent analysis of internal Facebook documents showed that Facebook engineers treated emoji reactions — including the “angry” emoji — as five times more valuable than “likes,” favoring controversial posts to keep users engaged — and profits flowing.
By serially failing to tell investors this kind of critical information, Facebook may have violated our securities laws and regulations. And Haugen has filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that Facebook has broken the law for withholding material information related to the company’s internal research.
Meanwhile, a second unnamed whistleblower provided an affidavit to the SEC alleging that Facebook prioritizes growth and profits over hate speech and misinformation.
As notable as whistleblower allegations are, it is surprising that the role the SEC could play in regulating and containing Facebook hasn’t received top billing. While Facebook is a tech company, it is first and foremost a publicly-traded company, and therefore subject to SEC regulations and oversight.