“The things I saw at Facebook over and over again was, there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimise for its own interests”
-Frances Haugen, former Facebook employee and whistle-blower of the Facebook Files
Story of the week: Facebook has just been through probably its worst week in years. On Sunday, former employee Frances Haugen revealed that she was the source of the Facebook Files, a series of damning revelations that the company has long known yet failed to address the harm Instagram causes to the mental health of teenage girls. The whistleblower went as far as saying on national television that Facebook consistently prioritises profit over everything. The revelations were followed by an internet outage that took Facebook and its services, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messanger, down for six hours on Monday. Facebook’s stock plunged by almost 5%, wiping off $6 billion of Mark Zuckerberg’s own shares.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, without naming Facebook directly, slammed the platform’s “arrogance of the too big to care,” and pointed to the Digital Services Act as the key piece of legislation that will put a stop to the monetisation of disinformation and harmful content. DSA rapporteur Christel Schaldemose and shadow rapporteur Alexandra Geese have invited Frances Haugen to testimony before the European Parliament. There were also those who drew antitrust conclusions from the outage. EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, in particular, pointed to the Digital Markets Act as a way to avoid having just a few big players for tech services.
Don’t miss: What’s on the Commission’s digital menu for next year? Luxherald.com got an exclusive view of a draft version of the 2022 work programme, with some additional details on the Cyber Resilience Act and Chips Act. The two legislative proposals are both planned for Q3 of next year together with the Media Freedom Act. But don’t hold your breath. The Commission is consistently optimistic in its planning, hence adoption might be pushed as far as the end of the year. Some other interesting initiatives concern merger control, digital skills and education, state aid for broadband and public service interoperability.
Before we start: What does media freedom look like in the digital age? Digital technologies and the rise of online platforms have reshaped how we produce, share and consume news, but the concept of media freedom has seen comparatively little change. As threats to journalists increase, some governments and the EU are asking how protections can be updated to keep up with digitalisation. We hear from the authors of a new report exploring the relationship between media freedom and technological development on this week’s podcast.