Facebook Whistleblower’s Push For Stricter Social Media Regulation Is Raising Free Speech Concerns


  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen called to crack down on the amplification of “hateful” speech and “misinformation” in her Senate testimony Tuesday, stirring controversy among some critics and Republican lawmakers who saw her proposals as an in-roads to further suppression of political speech.
  • “I believe she is actually there to advocate for more censorship and less freedom of speech,” Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who serves as chair of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus, said Wednesday.
  • Haugen also pushed for a dedicated federal regulatory body staffed with former employees of social media companies that would oversee the content moderation policies of social media platforms.
  • “I don’t think we want any sort of speech commission,” Jon Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the American Principles Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “For one, it would be unconstitutional, but also, as bad as the content moderation policies of these companies are, to have the government come in and push for even more censorship is really disturbing.”

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in front of a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to pass legislation regulating Facebook and pushing for more aggressive censorship of misleading content.

Haugen, who was employed as a product manager on Facebook’s Civic Misinformation team, leaked internal documents published by The Wall Street Journal last month detailing Facebook’s business practices. The leaked documents showed that Facebook’s algorithms amplified incendiary and divisive content, as well as misleading information related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Haugen called to crack down on the amplification of “hateful” speech and “misinformation” in her Senate testimony Tuesday, stirring controversy among some critics and Republican lawmakers who saw her proposals as an in-roads to further suppression of political speech.

“I believe she is actually there to advocate for more censorship and less freedom of speech,” Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who serves as chair of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus, told Fox Business Wednesday.

“I can’t help but think that this entire FB whistleblower story is nothing more than a set up by the left to help justify MORE censorship,” Rep. Jeff Duncan tweeted Monday.

However, many Republicans were receptive to Haugen, with Sens. Mike Lee and Marsha Blackburn applauding her efforts during the Senate hearing Tuesday.

Haugen’s testimony stressed the harms of Facebook’s algorithm promoting and amplifying “misinformation,” and she repeatedly called for further Congressional oversight of Facebook’s content moderation policies.

“Too bad the main concern of many politicians is prodding Facebook to censor ‘misinformation,’” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote Tuesday. “Ms. Haugen seems to agree, and it’s notable that her appearance seems to have been midwifed by Bill Burton, a prominent Democratic communications executive.”

The WSJ was referencing reports that Haugen was working with Bill Burton, founder of Democrat-linked consulting firm Bryson Gillette and former Obama administration official. Burton, who is reportedly providing strategic communications support to Haugen, is also the founder of Priorities USA Action, a Democratic political action committee.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show that Haugen is also a prominent Democrat donor, contributing to the campaigns of several prominent Democrats including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

At the heart of Haugen’s proposals was the suggestion that Congress force social media companies like Facebook to do away with the engagement algorithms, which amplify content based on user engagement, altogether. Jennifer Huddleston, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that such restrictions could raise First Amendment concerns.

“These companies themselves have First Amendment speech rights. These calls to regulate algorithms, particularly algorithms that amplify speech, would be subject to First Amendment scrutiny,” Huddleston said, warning that arguments for restricting the way in which private companies amplify their content could also be used for

“This opens the door to regulation of more traditional media as well, where the government would decide what is and what isn’t acceptable,” Huddleston said.

Haugen also pushed for a dedicated federal regulatory body staffed with former employees of social media companies that would oversee the content moderation policies of social media platforms. Jon Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the American Principles Project, told the DCNF this proposal posed a serious threat to First Amendment rights.

“I don’t think we want any sort of speech commission,” Schweppe said. “For one, it would be unconstitutional, but also, as bad as the content moderation policies of these companies are, to have the government come in and push for even more censorship is really disturbing.”

Haugen is set to meet with members of the January 6th Select Committee in the coming days, CNN reported, where she will discuss Facebook’s response to content posted on its platform preceding the Jan. 6 riots.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected]





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