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Facebook asked to retain documents linked to whistleblower testimonial

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Facebook asked to retain documents linked to whistleblower testimonial
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Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to preserve all documents related to testimony whistleblower Frances Haugen made of the company, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, SCC Chair Maria Cantwell said that the testimony raises concerns about whether Facebook has misled the public, federal regulators and SCC. The committee will continue its oversight and work to pursue legislation to protect consumers' privacy, improve data security, and strengthen federal enforcement to address the digital harms that are the subject of these hearings, she said.

Facebook was asked to preserve and retain internal Facebook research referenced by Haugen and the company evaluation of the research. Also, ranking or composition systems, experiments or recommendations to change those ranking systems and the impact of Facebook's platforms on children and teenagers under the age of 18 were asked to retain.

Cantwell's letter to Facebook mentioned the potential danger social media platforms pose in spreading divisive content. She said that the same was seen in Facebook's role in instigating ethnic violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar and its consequences. She added that this illustrates how the consequences of failing to limit the spread of divisive content would inflict public harm.

Meanwhile, Facebook's spokesperson, Andy Stone, responded that the company has no commercial, moral or company-wide incentives to do anything other than to try giving a maximum number of people a positive experience.

Last month, a United States judge had ordered Facebook to release records of accounts connected to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar. The judge had rejected Facebook's argument about protecting privacy, saying its "rich with irony". The Commerce Committee blatantly criticised Facebook last week and accused Zuckerberg of pushing for larger profits while being indifferent about user safety. The committee also demanded regulators investigate Haugen's accusations that Facebook harms children's mental health and stokes divisions.

Frances Haugen had called for transparency about how Facebook tempts users to scroll, creating ample space for advertisers to reach them. A former product manager on Facebook's civic misinformation team, she left Facebook with tens of thousands of confidential documents.

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