Facebook whistleblower urges Musk to disclose Twitter algorithm
Frances Haugen says large social media magnates like Facebook grow more concerned with ways to increase profit-making than prioritizing users' security.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower who exposed Facebook's internal documents that allegedly go on to show how the social networking site failed to safeguard users from harmful content in 2021, said she informed Elon Musk to make Twitter's algorithm public "if he wants to have the public square open," the DailyMail reported on Sunday.
Facebook whistleblower said the reason why social media companies aggressively push away government intervention is that accountability could result in at least 20% profit margin losses.
Haugen, who used to work as the product manager of Facebook's civic integrity team, spoke on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday to discuss "how social media is shaping our politics."
Speaking on her experience exposing Facebook's malpractice, she exposed tens of thousands of internal Facebook documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and The Wall Street Journal in 2021.
"One of the most important things Elon Musk could do to prove that he wants to have the public square is he could publish the algorithms," Haugen said, stressing that "he'd have more help. It'd be cheaper for him. He'd be more profitable."
"Let's just start facing the facts and stop pretending they're some little company in a garage," she added, noting that companies ought to be treated like "publishers".
Read more: Twitter Files: FBI accuses 'conspiracy theorists' of defaming agency
She further noted that large social media magnates like Facebook grow more concerned with ways to increase profit-making than prioritizing users' security.
"Facebook is scared that if we actually had transparency, if we actually had accountability, they would not be a company with 35 percent profit margins. They'd be a company with 15 percent profit margins."
"The way to think about safety on social media platforms is there's lots of very small choices where you make them and you lose .1 percent of profit, .2 percent of profit," Haugen said.
"The problem is, these industries are so sensitive to growth that when they don't grow at the level that the market expects, their stock price crashes. And so they're afraid to take even these small actions. Because they will decrease the profitability of a company by a little bit."
WATCH: Facebook whistleblower @FrancesHaugen says "Facebook is scared."@FrancesHaugen: "Overwhelmingly ... stock price declined ... when something came out that demonstrated Facebook was going to have to spend more money on safety." pic.twitter.com/L581gFy7g1— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 1, 2023
When Musk announced he acquired Twitter in October 2022, he said in a memo that he intentionally purchased the platform to promote the opportunity for dialogue, which he believes has been "lost".
He said that social media was in a state of 'polarized extremes' with the 'relentless' endeavor of collecting as many clicks and views as possible to generate more profits.
If Musk wants to have the public square open, he must make the platform more transparent by sharing an algorithm to see how Twitter pushes users both to far and left extremes without even knowing it.
Haugen said that company stock losses have been correlated with an increase in transparency.
"Over the course of five years before the Facebook disclosures began to become public, Facebook stock only declined versus the Nasdaq by more than 5 percent about 25 times – 27 times," she explained.
"Overwhelmingly those events when stock price declined were when something came out that demonstrated Facebook was going to have to spend more money on safety," Haugen added.
Read more: Musk: All Twitter 'conspiracy theories' turning out to be true
On December 14, 2022, former CEO and co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey took responsibility for the company's susceptibility to government and corporate influence.
"Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control. Only the original author may remove content they produce. Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice. The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles. This is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020," he wrote in his personal blog.
Dorsey noted that he realized companies have become "far too powerful" once Twitter suspended the account of former US President Donald Trump in January 2021.
His mistake was investing in the development of tools allowing the company "to manage the public conversation," instead of "building tools for the people using Twitter to easily manage it for themselves," Dorsey added.
"Burdened the company with too much power" and made it susceptible to "outside pressure", according to the former CEO.