Alan Rusbridger under pressure over Facebook role as whistleblower scandal deepens – Telegraph.co.uk

The leaked Facebook documents have revealed details about the social network’s internal workings, including research suggesting its Instagram services was harming teenagers’ mental health.

The leaks also revealed a secret system for reviewing high-profile accounts, such as those owned by Donald Trump and the Brazilian football star Neymar, which Facebook had failed to present to the Oversight Board. 

The board suggested that Facebook may not have been “fully forthcoming” with it, and is set to present findings on the matter later this month.

Mr Collins said the board was effectively powerless to regulate many of the issues facing the company.

He said: “The Oversight Board has no right to have access to the research documents that Frances Haugen has published. Facebook’s decisions to favour engagement over protecting users from harm is something that they are not allowed to investigate.

“The Oversight board was a PR exercise by Facebook and the people who are on it should not have allowed their good names to be used in this way.”

In response, Dex Hunter-Torricke, the board’s head of communications, said: “Since the Oversight Board issued its first decisions in January we’ve been working to shine a light on Facebook’s opaque rules and demand the company treat users fairly.

“We understand Damian Collins’ need to appear relevant by criticising us, but invite him to learn more about the 17 decisions and more than 75 recommendations we’ve issued.”

The board is due to issue a transparency report later this month that is expected to address whether Facebook was forthcoming with relevant information.

After Ms Haugen, the former employee-turned-whistleblower behind the leaked documents, testified to US senators on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence over the scandal.

Facebook’s chief executive said that claims the company puts profit over safety were “just not true”.


Facebook’s failing fight to remain youths’ favourite app

Facebook may have started life as the go-to social network for students, but for almost a decade it has struggled to brush off the nagging realisation it is losing the youth.

In 2013, then-chief financial officer David Ebersman admitted to investors that the website had seen a slight drop-off in daily usage amongst younger teenagers. 

It was the first sign that, among the most tech-savvy and choosy demographic, Facebook may have crested. For years it had been their favourite destination to mingle with friends and strangers online.

Shareholders panicked, knocking billions off the company’s value.

Since then, Facebook has gone to great lengths to prevent any perceptions of a decline among its youngest constituents, even as its global user base has grown relentlessly – and despite questions over the impact its services have on their mental health.

The tech giant has turned to buying up rival apps used by teenagers such as Instagram and, where it has been unable to, overtly copied their features. The company forged ahead despite its own research suggesting that 30pc of teen girls felt Instagram made dissatisfaction with their body worse, according to leaked documents.

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