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AP interview: Facebook whistleblower fears metaverse

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Brussels, Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen spoke to MEPs on Monday about the negative impact of the business models of big tech companies on users and corporations and how this could be addressed by EU digital law. (AP Photo / Virginia Mayo)

PA

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said the world should fear the impact of the metaverse the social media giant has renamed itself on, saying the futuristic world of virtual reality will force people to give up more of their personal information, to be addictive and to give to the struggling business. another monopoly in the online world.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday as she makes a series of appearances before EU lawmakers making rules for social media companies, Haugen said her former employer rushed to prioritize the metaverse because “if you don’t like the conversation, you’re trying to change the conversation.”

“Facebook should have a transparency plan for the metaverse before they start building all of this, because they have demonstrated when it comes to Facebook that they can hide behind a wall, they keep making unforced errors, they keep making mistakes. do things that prioritize their own profits over our security, ”she said.

The metaverse is sort of the Internet coming to life, or at least rendered in 3D. CEO Mark Zuckerberg described it as a “virtual environment” that you can walk into – instead of just staring at a screen – and refocused Facebook’s business model on it, including renaming the company Meta. People can meet, work and play using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps, or other devices.

Haugen is a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower whose revelations about the company’s practices have caught the world’s attention. The documents she handed over to authorities and her testimony to lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic revealed deep-seated issues within the business and spurred legislative and regulatory efforts around the world to crack down on big tech companies.

She says the social media giant prioritizes user engagement and growth over online safety. Haugen, who also provided a vast mine of internal documents drafted to a group of news agencies, alleges that Facebook’s systems amplify hatred and extremism online, fail to protect young people from harmful content and company has no incentive to solve problems.

Haugen’s documents revealed an internal crisis at the company which provides free services to 3 billion people.

Zuckerberg dismissed Haugen’s claims as a “coordinated effort” to paint a false picture of the company. A Facebook spokesperson said the company is working on a response to its comments on the metaverse.

Officials in Washington and in European capitals take his claims seriously. The legislators of the European Union questioned her intensely on Monday, before applauding her at the end of the 2h30 hearing.

The EU is drafting new digital rules for the bloc of 27 countries that call for taming the big ‘digital gatekeepers’, forcing them to be more transparent about their algorithms that determine what people see on their feeds and make them more accountable for it. content from their platforms.

Facebook has said it broadly supports regulations, with legislative efforts in the EU and UK being much more advanced than in the US.

Haugen calls on politicians to ensure closer scrutiny as Facebook focuses on the metaverse – a world others, including Microsoft and the video game companies, are also poised to build. She said that such immersive environments are “extremely addicting and encourage people to disconnect from the reality we actually live in.” go numb when their life was horrible, ”she added.

Haugen has expressed concern about how the metaverse will require the addition of sensors in homes and workplaces.

“In the case of workplaces, we have no choice to be in these spaces. For example, if your employer decides that it is now a metaverse company, you have to provide a lot more personal data to a company that has demonstrated that it is lying every time it is in its best interest, ”she said. declared.

Haugen stopped in London and Berlin to speak with officials and lawmakers and spoke at a technical conference in Lisbon. She will also address French lawmakers in Paris on Wednesday.


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