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Facebook safety head defends social network following whistleblower claims

·2-min read

Facebook has defended itself after a whistleblower made scathing claims about the social network earlier this week.

The firm was under the spotlight on Monday when former employee Frances Haugen told MPs and peers Instagram is dangerous for teenagers and that the platforms “unquestionably” make “hate worse”.

Ms Haugen also complained about having “no idea” how to escalate issues during her time with the company.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, was pressed on the matter by the Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee), as Government plans to regulate social media are scrutinised.

“I want to be very clear here, we have no business incentive, no commercial incentive, to actually provide people with a negative experience, we want to provide them with a positive experience,” she said.

“There are numerous ways to escalate a particular concern to draw attention to it.

“Most of the of the things that are brought to our attention are managed within 48 hours.”

Asked whether she thought criminal liability of directors should be included in the law to ensure they keep platforms safe, Ms Davis said she thought it would be a “pretty serious step” and is “not sure we need it to take action”.

NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless and Frances Haugen
Frances Haugen met with child safety campaigners at the NSPCC’s headquarters on Thursday (Joel Chant/PA)

The hearing came as whistleblower Ms Haugen met with a group of child protection experts at the NSPCC’s headquarters in London on Thursday.

“Meeting with campaigners and experts today it’s clear that despite the scale of the problem we know exists on Facebook there are workable solutions to protecting the safety of users,” she said.

“As I told MPs on Monday, Mark Zuckerberg will be keenly watching the UK as the Online Safety Bill progresses as it could set a precedent for regulation that finally compels companies like Facebook to ensure their products work in the public interest.”

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