As the Facebook dilemma grows, Americans are uniting against online divisiveness and speaking up on their future with the social media giant.
On Sunday, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen sent shockwaves with her “60 Minutes” interview on the platform’s practices behind closed doors. In her time as product manager, Haugen “copied thousands” of company documents; each showcasing a staggering reality in which Facebook “puts profit ahead of the public good.”
One of the biggest whistleblowing campaigns in modern history, Facebook’s dilemma would snowball Monday after NPR coverage kicked the doors wide open. In less than an hour after their broadcast, all of Facebook’s services – which include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger – would crash and go offline for six hours.
Even in just that short timespan, many Americans chose to rethink their use – and sometimes reliance – on social media. For a brief blip, Outsiders returned to the great outdoors and the many simple pleasures we enjoy in life.
As their services came back online, Facebook would attribute the outage to a routine maintenance issue. Facebook figurehead Mark Zuckerberg has since given a public statement, as well. He denies any wrong-doing by his conglomerate, and no legal lines have been drawn.
This is a common thread with social media giants: accountability. We give them our information, time, private messages, opinions, and use them to make our very thoughts public. But many of us are now asking: what are we getting in return?
Haugen’s report has Americans rethinking exactly this. Take, for example, the folks of Rochester, Minnesota who spoke out about the issue.
What Is the Future of Facebook for Every Day Americans?
Speaking to local KIMT 3, Minnesotan Brittnie Webber admits she was once addicted to the social media giant’s services. But she says the “constant stream of misinformation about COVID-19,” however, would see her deleting her account and quitting cold turkey.
“A lot of people use that as their news rather than looking into what the truth is,” Webber says. “I guess it can help for you to see maybe if something is happening but it’s up to the user to look into if the information is true or not.”
Some Facebook users also feel the platform focuses on divisiveness, which Haugen cites extensively in her findings on the platform’s algorithms.
“I just feel like there are very strong opinions out there and there are people who read those opinions and then will make them their own opinions,” Renee Pribyl, an elder Facebook user, adds. “I just feel that someone takes on someone else’s opinion because they saw it on Facebook.”
Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security
And then there’s Mark Kruger, a soft-spoken Minnesotan who hopes Facebook is “doing a good job” with users’ privacy.
“I hope they’re doing a good job. You give them your information but how do you know they’re protecting it? There’s no way to know,” he says.
To this end, Haugen also filed eight complaints with the securities and exchange commission over her findings. She maintains that the company is hiding research concerning its shortcomings from investors and the public; many of which cite grievous harm to the American public.
On Tuesday, the former product manager would testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on three key topics: consumer protection, product safety, and data security.
And whatever the fallout, Americans will be keeping a close eye on the future of Facebook.