Facebook whistleblower’s allegations could lead towards monopolization

The+recent+testimony+of+a+former+Facebook+employee+raises+more+questions+about+the+company%E2%80%99s+faults.

Graphic by Shea Hauswirth

The recent testimony of a former Facebook employee raises more questions about the company’s faults.

Jaden Whitehead, Staff Writer

Over the past couple weeks, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen  testified in front of Congress and took up an interview on “60 Minutes” detailing her allegations and concerns. Hauge, a former data analyst for the social media giant, alleges that Facebook prioritized user and company growth at the cost of safety measures.

More specifically,  the algorithms in place on Facebook and its family of apps are harmful towards teens and  the spread of misinformation across the app has resulted in real-world violence.

Prior to her departure from the company, Hague copied thousands of pages of data showing  that  these issues not only occurred, but that the social media platform was completely aware of them  too.

One of these documents goes into research done in-house, showing that the Facebook-owned app Instagram damages teen girl’s mental health by specifically recommending accounts promoting body dysmorphia, self harm and eating disorders to their accounts.

Hague also alleges that the rapid spread of misinformation and hate filled rhetoric on Facebook directly led to the January 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

Less than  twenty four hours following Haugue’s testimony on Capitol Hill, Facebook and its group of apps (Instagram, Whats App) had a complete outage, its longest in over a decade. This along with the whistleblower’s allegations in mind, one could wonder if there are concerns over the far reach and control Facebook has and if their motives to monopolize social media are a good thing or not.

Personally, I believe Facebook’s tactics are clearly geared towards monopolization, and  it could  be catastrophic.

Due  to laws and regulations already in place, Facebook cannot outright purchase its competitors.Yet, this has not stopped them from using their vastly superior resources to copy and paste competitors’ features into their own apps. Facebook copied one of its biggest competitors Snapchat by implementing stories and photo messaging mirroring how Snapchat operates.

Between Facebook and its owned apps there are over 3.14 billion reported users, over half of the entire world’s population. With the amount of data mining they do using the personal information of their user base, it creates a harsh circle where Facebook feeds us what we want to see.

Whether it be targeted advertising, news posts or simply anything through the “Suggested for You” feature, the giant is successfully controlling our thought processes.

With all this in mind, how do we begin to regulate Facebook in an attempt to curb their control and manipulation of the human race, especially with a host of lobby groups ready  to defend the helm?

If it’s any indication from the Congressional hearing with Frances Hague, there is bipartisan support  for regulation on Facebook.

Some, including former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler  have brought up the idea of a new oversight committee specifically to “deal with the ever-evolving digital market.” While this is a decent start, I believe Facebook’s power and influence is far too vast and the process would ultimately move at a snail’s pace.

This needs more immediate and powerful action.

One idea is to introduce legislation to tighten up on privacy, so it is harder for Facebook to gain personal information to use against its user base. There is also the thought of breaking up Facebook from its owned apps such as Instagram and Whatsapp, but in the past  groups such as AT&T and Comcast have proved  to be both difficult and insufficient.

No matter what, those in power must attempt to act against the giant in Facebook quickly otherwise we face a reality  where the app has more influence on the world and its people than any country or leader could.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos