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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen says Mark Zuckerberg should resign to make the platform safer

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Haugen made her comments at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Monday
Haugen made her comments at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Monday   -   Copyright  AFP
By Tom Bateman  & Reuters

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has called for her former boss, Mark Zuckerberg, to step down and allow the company to change, rather than concentrate on rebranding it.

"I think it is unlikely the company will change if [Mark Zuckerberg] remains the CEO," Haugen told the audience at the opening night of the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon on Monday.

Asked if Zuckerberg should resign, Haugen said she believed he should. "Facebook would be stronger with someone who was willing to focus on safety, so yes," she said.

Haugen, a former project manager at the company, made headlines in October after leaking internal reports that exposed the depth of Facebook's awareness of the harmful impact of its own services.

The company formerly known as Facebook

The social network, with nearly 3 billion users, changed its name to Meta last week, in a rebrand that focuses on building the "metaverse," a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the successor to the mobile internet.

But early adopters of the metaverse blasted Facebook's rebranding as an attempt to capitalise on growing buzz over a concept it did not create to deflect from recent negative attention.

Commenting on the rebranding, Haugen said it made no sense given the security issues that have yet to be tackled.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change during a virtual event on October 28AP Photo

"Over and over Facebook chooses expansion and new areas instead of sticking the landing on what they've already done," Haugen said

"Instead of investing in making sure their platforms are a minimal level of safe, they're about to invest 10,000 engineers in video games. And I can't imagine how this makes sense".

Pushback

Facebook's rebranding announcement came amid strong criticism from lawmakers and regulators over the corporation's business practices - particularly its enormous market power, algorithmic decisions and the policing of abuses on its services.

The social media network, which operates a dual class share structure through which Zuckerberg and a small group of investors control the company, has hit back saying the documents leaked by Haugen were being used to paint a "false picture".

Haugen told committees of British and American lawmakers last month that Facebook would fuel more violent unrest worldwide unless it curbed its algorithms which push extreme, divisive content and prey on vulnerable demographics to keep them scrolling.

"The thing I saw over and over again was that there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook," Haugen said in an interview last month.

Additional sources • AP