Echoing her interview Sunday on 60 Minutes, Haugen said she joined Facebook in 2019 after someone close to her was “radicalized” online. She pursued a job at the company, she said, in an effort to improve internal policies long criticized for amplifying the most politically divisive content in order to generate engagement among its users. Facebook’s acute fixation with driving engagement—which translates into ad dollars, the company’s singular source of income—resulted in system that only serves to amplify “division, extremism, and polarization,” she said, “undermining societies around the world.”
“This is not simply a matter of some social media users being angry or unstable,” said Haugen. “Facebook became a $1 trillion company by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children. And that is unacceptable.”
Haugen, who holds an MBA from Harvard and previously worked on algorithms at Google, Pinterest, and Yelp, was recruited by Facebook in 2019 as a lead product manager for “civic misinformation,” later working on “counter-espionage” as a member of Facebook’s threat intelligence team. At Facebook, she witnessed the company consistently placing profits above all else—decisions which generated “self-harm” and “self-hate,” she said, among the platform’s youngest users.
At the top of the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on consumer protection, raised the question of whether Facebook has known all along that children were becoming addicted to Instagram, the photo-sharing platform Facebook purchased in 2012. “Many of Facebook’s internal research reports indicates that Facebook has a serious negative harm on a significant portion of teenagers and younger children,” she said.
“Facebook knows that it’s amplification algorithms, things like engagement based rankings on Instagram, can lead children from very innocuous topics… all the way from something innocent like health recipes to anorexia-promoting content, over a very short period of time,” Haugen said, adding that Facebook’s internal definition of “addiction” requires that users be self-identify as having a problem.
“In the end,” she said, CEO Mark Zuckerberg bears the ultimate responsibility. “There’s no one currently holding Mark accountable.”
Blumenthal last week said his office had written to Zuckerberg in August, asking whether Facebook had ever heard of his platforms having negative effects, such as suicidal thoughts, on children’s and teen’s mental health. The company effectively ducked the question, saying only that it knew of no consensus among experts as to how much “screen time” was unhealthy for kids.
Internal documents amassed by Haugen before departing Facebook in May laid bare the effects of Instagram’s engagement algorithms on teens—young girls, in particular. Leaked to the Wall Street Journal, the documents noted Instagram was responsible for worsening anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts linked to body-image issues among young girls.
Separate materials shared with the Journal revealed that Facebook views children 10-years-old and younger as a “valuable” and “untapped” resource crucial to the company’s “growth.”
As of yet, Facebook has not indicated whether it plans to take legal action against Haugen for leaking company documents to the press, but has said it won’t pursue her for sharing with Senate lawmakers, whom she initially approached this summer.
Facebook, in response, attacked its own research, calling it “exploratory,” and saying its researchers did not rely on any “clinical criterion.” The company, meanwhile, has refused to release the raw data underlying its findings, preferring to annotate documents referenced in the press in an effort to downplay their significance.
“I came forward because I recognized a frightening truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook,” Haugen said in opening remarks. “The company’s leadership keeps vital information from the public, the U.S. government, its shareholders, and governments around the world. The documents I have provided prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled us about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, its role in spreading hateful and polarizing messages, and so much more.”
Haugen went on to say it was typical at Facebook for problems to be understaffed. The threat intelligence team, for example, “could only handle a third of the cases—that we knew about.” The lack of adequate staffing disincentivized the team from improving systems designed to detect issues, which would only create more work the team was not equipped to handle.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
I said it before to much acclaim, and I’ll say it again… How many times must facebook be allowed to absolutely RUIN the fucking country before people just wake the fuck up already and get rid of this nonsense. No one’s lives have been improved by social media. In fact, we are all far worse off.
As always, you’ve got a few options. You can head over to Apple’s dedicated event page, or if you’ve got the Apple TV you can watch it on there too. Actually, you can watch it on any TV so long as you have the Apple TV app. Apple also streams its events live on YouTube, and you can either watch the embedded video above or go directly to the source. And if for whatever reason you can’t watch it live, Apple makes the recording available after the event. We’ll also be liveblogging everything as it happens.
Will We See the iPhone 13?
Yep, there are no delays for the iPhone this year. We fully expect to see four iPhone 13 models showcased next week. As with the iPhone 12 lineup, expect to see an iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 13 Mini. We’re also not expecting a lot of changes in terms of display size, materials, or the overall look of the phone itself. Design-wise, the biggest change we’re anticipating is a smaller notch, with some speculating that Apple will adopt the hole-punch design you see on some Android phones. Other previously leaked renders showed the notch shrinking by almost half. (Sorry, but the notchless phone we saw in that one Ted Lasso episode was likely a post-production VFX error.)
Besides the notch, we’ve also consistently heard that the Pro models may get 120Hz displays that utilize LTPO tech. (We’ve seen LTPO displays on the Apple Watch, but it essentially is a more battery-efficient display that enables a variable refresh rate.) The iPhone 13 lineup will also get a new, faster A15 chip, as well as bigger batteries. It’s also probably no surprise that Apple’s beefing up the iPhone 13’s cameras as well. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted earlier this year that the iPhone 13 will feature an upgraded ultra-wide camera and improved low-light performance. We’re also expecting to see more video features, including a video portrait mode, new filters, and ProRes format for editing. Also possible is a stronger magnet array (and a new MagSafe charger), plus support for Wi-Fi 6E.
Another recent rumor we’ve heard is that the iPhone 13 will support satellite connectivity, which would enable users to text and call if they’re in an area without 4G or 5G. However, this is one rumor you should be skeptical of. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman—one of the most reliable Apple prognosticators—says this is a big bag of phooey. According to Gurman, the iPhone 13 might have the hardware to support this in the future, but it’s not something that’ll be announced this year.
The one rumor we’re not too thrilled with is the iPhone 13 lineup may be more expensive than initially expected. It’s unclear whether that’ll be true across all four models, or just the two Pro models. In any case, if the iPhone 13 is pricier, you have the global chip shortage to thank for that.
What About New AirPods?
It feels like it’s been 86 years since we first caught wind of the AirPods 3, but it looks like we might finally get to see them next week.
The AirPods 3 are expected to borrow some design features from the AirPods Pro—think shorter stem and a smaller case. Initial predictions also mentioned silicone ear tips, but those were nowhere to be seen in several leaked photos and renders in recent months. However, it seems that’s about as far as Apple’s going. Don’t expect to see premium features like active noise cancellation or Spatial Audio—you’ll have to splurge on the AirPods Pro for those.
It’s also possible Apple will add the U1 ultra-wideband chip to the AirPods 3. iOS 15 will add Precision Finding in the Find My app for the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, and to use it, people will have to link the AirPods to their Apple ID. Apple’s added the U1 chip to many of its more recent products, so it’s not unreasonable to think that might extend to the AirPods 3. (Whom amongst us hasn’t gotten down on their hands and knees searching for a lost AirPod?) Then again, the U1 chip was absent from the ludicrously expensive AirPods Max, so we’ll just have to see.
Will the iPad Mini Finally Get a Redesign?
Pandemic lockdowns translated to stellar tablet sales in 2020, so it’s not surprising that Apple is keen on revamping its iPad lineup. This time around, it looks like it’s the iPad Mini’s turn.
Supposedly, the new iPad Mini will feature the most significant redesign for the product since it first launched. That means slimmer bezels and no home button. We could also see a miniLED display, as we did with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro this past spring. The iPad Mini is also expected to be slightly larger, somewhere in the range of 8.5 to 9 inches.
Spec-wise, the Mini is rumored to getting an A15 processor—the same as the iPhone 13 lineup. It’s also thought the Mini will be getting USB-C and a Smart Connector, which hints Apple’s perhaps cooking up some accessories and peripherals for the device.
What’s All This About the Apple Watch Getting Bigger?
Compared to the Series 6 and the Watch SE, there haven’t been as many rumors surrounding the Apple Watch Series 7. What we do know, however, is that like the iPad Mini, the Series 7 will get the most significant visual redesign since the Apple Watch first launched in 2015.
Leaked photos and renders show a flat-edged design that calls back to the iPhone 12 (and the early iPhones before that). It’s also rumored that the displays will also be slightly larger at 41mm and 45mm. However, it’s also a toss-up as to whether the Series 7 will truly launch next week. Due to the redesign, Apple reportedly had to reconfigure the internal components as well. That’s caused some production issues, and it depends on whether Apple can smooth those problems over in time. We might end up hearing the announcement, but having to wait a while before we actually get to see the product. Or, like last year, Apple might end up holding a separate Apple Watch event.
As for features, don’t expect anything too mind-blowing in terms of health-tracking. While the Series 6 introduced an SpO2 sensor and blood oxygen readings, this generation of Apple Watch—and watchOS 8—is expected to focus more on mindfulness. We do know that Apple is tinkering with a lot of advanced health features down the line, but those are unlikely to debut with the Series 7. For example, we’d heard a few murmurs of blood glucose monitoring for the Series 7, but it increasingly looks like that won’t pan out.
Will Apple Announce New Apple TV+ Shows?
We’re absolutely not expecting a new Apple TV so soon after Apple introduced a new model earlier this year with a refreshed Apple TV 4K. However, it’s really hard to ignore the streaming bit of the ‘California Streaming’ tagline on the event invite. While that could just be a reference to the fact the event is being live-streamed, it wouldn’t take us by complete surprise if Apple decided to announce some new titles for its premium TV service.
When Will We See M1X MacBooks?
We’ve been expecting new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks that use Apple’s next-gen M1 chip for a while now. They’re definitely coming sometime this year. It’s just not that likely that Apple will tack them onto its iPhone event. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman contends that it’s likely we’ll see the computers sometime before the end of November. As we mentioned earlier, it’s increasingly likely that Apple will hold multiple launch events this fall and we expect the two new MacBooks (and possibly a high-end Mac Mini) will debut then. But then again, this is Apple and they always love to surprise you with One More Thing—so who can say?
The wait is almost over, and as always, Gizmodo’s entire consumer tech team will be live-blogging the whole shebang next Tuesday. We’ll be ready with hot takes and analysis, along with a generous helping of chaos, so stay tuned.