Facebook whistleblower Haugen says employees who raised concerns were less likely to get promoted than staff who were willing to 'look the other way'

·2 min read
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images/Andrew Harnik/AP
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen says staff who raise concerns are less likely to be promoted.

  • "Good people who are embedded in systems with bad incentives are led to bad actions," she said.

  • Haugen claims Facebook places "profit over people," which it denies.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told UK lawmakers Monday that the tech giant is full of good people - but that it incentivizes bad behavior.

Facebook tends to promote people who "look the other way," she said. Haugen, who worked on Facebook's civic integrity team, has said Facebook routinely places "profit before people" - a claim the company denies.

On Monday, she said Facebook was "overwhelmingly full of conscientious, kind, empathetic people. Good people who are embedded in systems with bad incentives are led to bad actions."

"And there was a real pattern of people who are willing to look the other way are promoted more than people who raise alarms," Haugen told a UK parliamentary select committee.

Haugen said the company had clung on to a startup work culture that no longer works.

"There is a culture that lionizes kind of a startup ethic that is in my opinion, irresponsible ... The idea that, you know, the person who can figure out how to move the metric by cutting ... corners is good," she said.

"There is a pattern across a lot of the people who run the company or senior leaders, which is: this may be the only job they've ever had," she said.

Mark Zuckerberg "came in when he was 19 and he's still CEO. There's a lot of other people who are VPs or directors who this is the only job they've ever had," Haugen said.

This is not universally true for Facebook's top execs. For example, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg worked at the World Bank, as chief of staff for former US treasury secretary Larry Summers, and for Google before joining Facebook in 2007. Its VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg was the UK's deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2015.

Haugen worked on Facebook's civic integrity team, which was disbanded and its employees distributed into the company's wider integrity unit. She left in May 2021 and took reams of internal documents which she leaked to The Wall Street Journal. On Monday, numerous other news organisations also published stories based on the documents.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider about Haugen's testimony.

Previously in response to testimony Haugen gave to US senators earlier this month, Zuckerberg said a "false picture" of the company was being painted.

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