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Facebook whistleblower says her goal is not to damage the company

The former Facebook Inc. employee who gathered documents that formed the foundation of the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series said she acted to help prompt change at the social-media giant, not to stir anger toward it.

Frances Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on Facebook
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said she had grown frustrated by what she saw as the company’s lack of openness about its platforms’ potential for harm and unwillingness to address its flaws. She is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday. She has also sought federal whistleblower protection with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a series of interviews, Haugen, who left the company in May after nearly two years, said that she had come into the job with high hopes of helping Facebook fix its weaknesses. She soon grew skeptical that her team could make an impact, she said. Her team had few resources, she said, and she felt the company put growth and user engagement ahead of what it knew through its own research about its platforms’ ill effects.

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Toward the end of her time at Facebook, Haugen said, she came to believe that people outside the company — including lawmakers and regulators — should know what she had discovered.

“If people just hate Facebook more because of what I’ve done, then I’ve failed,” she said. “I believe in truth and reconciliation — we need to admit reality. The first step of that is documentation.”

‘I don’t hate Facebook. I love Facebook. I want to save it.’


— Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen in her final post on the company’s internal social network

In a written statement, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said, “Every day our teams have to balance protecting the right of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place. We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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