The Facebook whistleblower hearing unearthed the danger of engagement algorithms

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Photo by Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before a Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee in one of the most significant hearings for the company over the last few years.

Haugen’s testimony followed bombshell reporting from the Wall Street Journal last month that detailed the ways in which Facebook’s products can inflict harm on users. The Journal stories were based on a series of internal reports at Facebook that Haugen leaked to the newspaper. One specific set of reports suggested that Facebook knew Instagram was “toxic” for teenage users, especially young girls.

“Facebook has put profits ahead of people,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said on Tuesday. “I hope we will discuss whether there is such a thing as a safe…

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