Whistleblower Haugen to testify as UK scrutinizes Facebook

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before British lawmakers Monday as the UK works on legislation to reign in the power of social media giants.

Haugen, who is a former Facebook data scientist, began her testimony in front of a UK parliamentary committee at 9.30 a.m. ET as lawmakers scrutinize draft British legislation aimed at cracking down on harmful online content.

It comes a week after she testified in the US Senate earlier this month about the dangers she says Facebook poses, from harming kids to inciting political violence.

Her appearance before British lawmakers came on the same day news organizations started publishing bombshell stories based on the internal Facebook documents she obtained and leaked.

Haugen provided the internal documents to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after secretly copying them before leaving her job in Facebook’s civic integrity unit.

Frances Haugen is set to appear before a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government’s draft legislation to crack down on harmful online content.
Frances Haugen.
Frances Haugen’s comments could help lawmakers beef up new rules.
Shawn Thew/EPA

Some stories based on the documents have alleged the company misled investors and masked slowing growth among critical demographics like young users in the US.

During her Senate testimony earlier this month, Haugen said she believes a federal regulator should be put in place to oversee companies like Facebook.

British and EU officials are already working on a similar move.

Frances Haugen.
Frances Haugen testified before the US Senate earlier this month about the danger Facebook poses.
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via AP

“This is quite a big moment,” Damian Collins, the lawmaker who chairs the UK committee, said ahead of her hearing.

“This is a moment, sort of like Cambridge Analytica, but possibly bigger in that I think it provides a real window into the soul of these companies.”

Collins said the internal documents Haugen obtained showed the depth of information Facebook had.

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Haugen is testifying the same day that Facebook is set to release its latest earnings.

Facebook representatives are set to speak to the UK committee this Thursday.

Haugen is also scheduled to meet with European Union officials in Brussels next month.