(Reuters) – Facebook will incite more episodes of violent unrest around the world due to the way its algorithms are designed to promote divisive content, whistleblower Frances Haugen told the British Parliament on Monday.
Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook's civil disinformation team, appeared before a UK parliamentary committee examining plans to regulate social media companies.
She said the social network saw security as a cost center, leading to a start-up culture where it was good to cut corners and said that it "without a doubt" made hatred worse.
"The events we see around the world, things like Myanmar and Ethiopia, are the introductory chapters because engagement-based ranking does two things: one, it prioritizes and reinforces divisive and polarizing extreme content and two it concentrates on," she said.
She said the algorithms drove users to the extreme. "So any center to the left, they will be pushed to the radical left, some center to the right will be pushed to the radical right," she said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has retaliated against Haugen's accusations, saying earlier this month: "The argument that we are deliberately running content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical."
Reuters, along with other news organizations, looked at documents released to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress by Haugen.
They showed that Facebook had known they had not hired enough workers who had both language skills and knowledge of local events needed to identify offensive posts from users in a number of developing countries.