Science, Technology, and Social Media

Second Facebook Whistleblower Offers To Testify In Congress

Another former Facebook employee says she is willing to testify before Congress on the tech giant’s business practices.

Sophie Zhang is a former Facebook data scientist and whistleblower who, in September 2020, revealed “influence” operations perpetrated by “authoritarian regimes” that took place on Facebook. Zhang told CNN in an interview Sunday that she provided information regarding “potential criminal violations” by Facebook to a U.S. law enforcement agency at the time. Zhang also said that she is willing to testify before Congress about her allegations of criminal conduct by Facebook.

Zhang, who was fired from Facebook in August 2020 for problems with performance, published a memo first reported on by Buzzfeed News detailing how oppressive governments like Azerbaijan or Honduras used the platform to “mislead their own citizenry.” She alleged Facebook was aware of how its platform was being used, but that “we simply didn’t care enough to stop them.”

“I have blood on my hands,” she wrote in the memo.

Zhang has not shared the “detailed documentation” she says she provided to law enforcement, nor has she said to which agency she provided any information, according to CNN. Zhang did say, however, that she was inspired to testify before Congress after watching the fallout of Frances Haugen’s testimony last week.

Facebook has recently cracked down on influence operations carried out on its site, removing entire networks of accounts based on how they abide by its community guidelines. The company also releases reports on inauthentic behavior that takes place on its platform, most recently removing fake accounts used by political groups in Sudan and Iran.

Facebook currently faces a lawsuit over its handling of posts from people in Myanmar that promoted violence against the Rohingya Muslim community. The Rohingya are the victims of ongoing atrocities and human rights abuses.

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