NewsLocal News


Sen. Lee 'fighting for kids,' demands accountability from Facebook

Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 19:48:07-04

WASHINGTON — Utah Senator Mike Lee was among those who grilled a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower who testified at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday.

Frances Haugen claims the social media giant puts profits above pretty much everything else, including the well-being of the nation's youth.

Haugen blew the whistle on what she says are troubling tactics by the social media giant.

“The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they’ve put the company’s astronomical profits before people,” said Haugen.

Haugen testified Facebook took steps to combat misinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election, but afterward, rolled those protections back.

“Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run up to the election because they knew they were dangerous and because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration of the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. And the fact that they had to break the glass on Jan. 6 and turn them back on, I think that's deeply problematic,” she said.

Utah Senator Mike Lee focused much of his questions on the impact on youth, including advertisements

He pointed out how last week, Facebook’s head of safety testified that Facebook doesn’t allow ads for weight loss and tobacco to be displayed to minors.

“Since that exchange happened, a number of individuals indicated that part of her testimony was inaccurate, it was false,” said Lee.

Lee showed a few mockup ads by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) that would target 13-17 year old children if approved.

“And as I understand it, Facebook approved them all of them for an audience up to 9 million users all of whom are teens,” Lee said.

Ads promoting drug use, eating disorders, and finding love.

“Just to be clear, TTP did not end up pushing the ads after receiving Facebook’s approval, but it did receive Facebook’s approval,” said Lee.

In the middle of the hearing, Lee tweeted "Facebook would like nothing more than for you to think this is all about censorship so Republicans and Democrats can go back to fighting each other. Don’t take the bait. This is about fighting for our kids."

Following the hearing, Lee appeared on Fox News Channel, saying Facebook isn’t being adequately vigilant to protect children.

Lee says he’s introduced a bill called ‘The Promise Act’ that would create liability for these companies if they fail to comply with their own professed content moderation policies.