A new Facebook whistleblower has reportedly emerged, dishing to US regulators that an official at the social network in 2017 blew off concerns about hate speech as a “flash in the pan,” adding that while “some legislators will get pissy” Facebook is “printing money in the basement.”
The new whistleblower told the Securities and Exchange Commission under penalty of perjury that the company has constantly shrugged off concerns about hate speech and misinformation in pursuit of growth, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Like Frances Haugen, another former Facebook
employee-turned-whisteblower who testified in Congress earlier this month, the new whistleblower is reportedly an ex-member of the company’s “integrity team.”
The new whistleblower, whose name has not been disclosed, reportedly told the SEC that Facebook executives undermined attempts to fight misinformation and hate speech during the Trump administration because they thought such efforts would slow the company’s growth — and because they were afraid of the president and his political allies.
Facebook leadership also had a blasé attitude about legislators’ efforts to investigate the company, according to the report.
“It will be a flash in the pan. Some legislators will get pissy,” Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds said in 2017, according to the reported whistleblower. “And then in a few weeks they will move on to something else. Meanwhile we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine.”
A source who worked at Facebook at the same time the whistleblower was there told The New York Post that the alleged quote from Bounds sounds accurate.
“That’s how Tucker talks,” the former employee said. “The Tucker quote, as much as I disagree with it, really does reflect the attitude during 2017.”
Bounds and the SEC did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Facebook spokeswoman Erin McPike said in a statement that the story was “beneath the Washington Post, which during the last five years would only report stories after deep reporting with corroborating sources.”
The new whistleblower also said that Facebook’s public policy team defended maintaining a “white list” of Trump-friendly websites including Breitbart news, which the company exempted from its rules against spreading false news news, according to the report.
When Facebook public policy chief Joel Kaplan was questioned about the whitelist, he reportedly responded by saying, “Do you want to start a fight with Steve Bannon?”
On Friday, Kaplan said in an emailed statement to The New York Post, “There has never been a whitelist that exempts publishers, including Breitbart, from Facebook’s rules against misinformation.”
But the former Facebook employee told The New York Post that the whistleblower was accurately describing the company’s approach to content moderation during the Trump administration — including the Breitbart exemption.
“That’s how Facebook ran during the Trump administration,” the former employee said. “They broke the rules and did whatever they needed to keep him and his preferred news sources happy.”
“I was not in that purported meeting but that’s exactly something that Joel Kaplan would say on a call,” the former employee added.
The new whistleblower appears to have worked with a group called the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, which said on Twitter that it submitted the whistleblower’s tip to the SEC on Friday morning.
“Our filing shows that #Facebook security officials realized 10+ yrs ago that they could not remove toxicity on its platforms and remain profitable,” said the group, which is led by ex-ABC News journalist Gretchen Peters.