Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle have expressed concerns over social media sites like Facebook, and tension increased after Facebook’s most recent outage that lasted hours. Coupled with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifying before the U.S. Senate and more than 50 Attorney Generals signing a letter approving of a Senatorial probe into the social media company, the relationship between lawmakers and Facebook has only become more strained. After a recent interview between Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs, and George Stephanopoulos, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) accused the tech company of ‘playing word games.’
Providing a testimony during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, Haugen accused Facebook of not properly policing content while also accusing Facebook of not being able to address concerns because it’s “understaffed.”
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Clegg credited Haugen with suggesting that her and her team remove algorithms to better rank content. However, Clegg shared that this would not be effective.
“If you were just sort of, across the board, remove the algorithm, the first thing that would happen is that people would see more, not less hate speech,” Clegg commented, adding that people would also see “more, not less information” and “more, not less harmful content.”
In response, Rep. Wasserman Schultz expressed disapproval in the comments, arguing that Clegg is “playing word games by suggesting that ‘removing’ Facebook’s algorithms would make it more likely that people see hate speech is like telling a woman that she’s more likely to get pregnant if she uses birth control.”
Providing further elaboration to George Stephanopoulos, Clegg added that “those algorithmic systems precisely are designed like a great sort of giant spam filter to identify and deprecate and downgrade bad content.”
Haugen called Facebook a “national security issue,” explaining that “the choices being made inside of Facebook are disastrous for our children, for our public safety, for our privacy, and for our democracy.”