A former spokesperson for President Barack Obama‘s Treasury Department is calling for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to resign after more revelations have been made public about the company’s failure to stop disinformation.
Kara Alaimo, now serving as an associate professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, claims that Zuckerberg ‘has done little to try to fix’ the problems with the social media behemoth.
A new whistleblower affidavit submitted by a former Facebook employee accuses the social media giant of prioritizing profits over their due diligence to combat hate speech, misinformation and other threats to the public.
The new allegations, submitted anonymously under penalty of perjury, echoed the claims made by fellow whistleblower Frances Haugen, who delivered a scathing testimony before Congress this month on Facebook’s moral failings.
Kara Alaimo, now serving as an associate professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, says that the first step to fixing problems at Facebook would be for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to resign
Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, has a net worth is $122 billion, making him the 5th-richest person in the world
In the most dramatic line of the affidavit, the former employee anguished over Facebook’s inability to act quickly to help curb racial killings in Myanmar in 2017 as military officials used the site to spread hate speech.
The op-ed comes as Facebook considers changing the company’s name after all the bad publicity.
The company is also hinting at plans for a so-called ‘metaverse’ – a virtual reality version of the internet where people can game, work and communicate.
The tech giant’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice on the concept, which would blur the lines between the physical world and the digital one.
It could allow someone to don a virtual reality headset to make them feel as if they’re face-to-face with a friend, despite being thousands of miles apart and connected via the internet.
Whistleblower Frances Haugen delivered a scathing testimony before Congress earlier this month on Facebook’s moral failings.
Alaimo says the company needs much more than a cosmetic change.
‘The place to start is with Zuckerberg’s resignation,’ she wrote in the op-ed.
Zuckerberg, Alaimo said, either can’t fix Facebook’s issues or won’t.
‘It’s clear that he lacks the moral inclination or the capacity to solve these problems,’ she wrote. ‘Either way, he’s got to go. The company should announce a new chief executive with all possible haste. It should be someone thoughtful and committed to transparency about how social media is harming our society — who has the will and competence to put the platform on a very different course.’
Simply put, Alaimo argues Zuckerberg’s company, which has nearly three billion users, has lost the public trust.
‘It’s because the public has lost faith in Facebook. And rightly so. For all the family photos shared or funny videos consumed that the company has made possible, ‘Facebook’ is now also a name associated in recent years with misinformation, privacy violations, the spread of hate and autocracy.’
Alaimo calls Facebook’s reputation ‘bankrupt’ and says the name will do little to restore public trust.
Haugen has said that Facebook holds culpability for the January 6 Capitol insurrection
The company said it more or less ‘stumbled’ onto the riot, which resulted in the deaths of five people
As the world begins to truly contend with just how dangerous social media platforms can be, Facebook’s reckoning has been kicked into overdrive following former staffer Frances Haugen’s shocking allegations that the company has long known about its platform’s toxic effects on society — and has done little to try to fix them.
‘The only way for Facebook to restore that trust is to change its leadership and address the actual issues that have justifiably prompted so much concern.’
This is the first time the company has faced such accusations since the internal memos released and testimony given by Haugen.
Haugen and the new whistleblower also submitted the allegations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees all publicly traded companies.
In the SEC affidavit, the anonymous ex-employee alleges that Facebook officials routinely undermined efforts within the company to fight misinformation and hate speech out of fear of angering then-President Donald Trump and his allies.
The former employee said that on one occasion, Facebook’s Public Policy team defended a ‘white list’ that exempted the alt-right media company Breitbart News and other Trump-aligned publishers from Facebook’s ordinary rules against spreading fake news.
Alaimo says ‘he company should announce a new chief executive with all possible haste’
Facebook is blamed by Haugen as knowing Instagram harmed young girls’ body image and even tried to brainstorm ways to appeal to toddlers by ‘exploring playdates as a growth lever.’
Ultimately, Alaimo argues, ‘changing a name won’t change reality.’
The complaints come after Haugen’s testimony before Congress in early October, where she claimed Facebook promoted divisiveness as a way to keep people on the site, with Haugen saying the documents showed the company had failed to protect young users.
It also showed that the company knew Instagram harmed young girls’ body image and even tried to brainstorm ways to appeal to toddlers by ‘exploring playdates as a growth lever.’
‘The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed,’ Haugen said at a hearing.
Haugen, who anonymously filed eight complaints about her former employer with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, told 60 Minutes earlier this month: ‘Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety.’
She claimed that a 2018 change prioritizing divisive posts, which made Facebook users argue, was found to boost user engagement.
That in turn helped bosses sell more online ads that have seen the social media giant’s value pass $1 trillion.
‘You are forcing us to take positions that we don’t like, that we know are bad for society. We know if we don’t take those positions, we won’t win in the marketplace of social media,’ Haugen said.
She also blamed Facebook for spurring the January 6 Capitol riot.