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Holding Facebook accountable

Driving meaningful change requires supporting the brave whistleblowers who come forward to hold those in power accountable.

Recent revelations made public through our work with Whistleblower Aid validate the concerns that so many of us have about social media.

West End Strategy Team is proud to be a long-time partner with Whistleblower Aid. Since supporting the launch of the organization, we’ve worked hard to ensure that disclosures about Google’s failure to pay fair wages, Jeffrey Epstein’s connection to the MIT media lab, and President Donald Trump’s quid pro quo offer to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have had maximum impact.

When Whistleblower Aid agreed to represent Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee with a trove of documents to disclose to the SEC and Congress, we worked to make the rollout a success. That effort paid off. This fall, The Wall Street Journal launched its Facebook Files series, based on disclosures made to the SEC and provided to Congress, to expose how the social media giant spreads misinformation and objectionable content while refusing to address a host of issues with its algorithm.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, knows the real harm the platform causes to teenagers especially around depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

And that’s far from the only reckless behavior exposed by the series. The reports document the ways Facebook exempted powerful users from basic rules regarding hate speech and revenge porn; tweaked its algorithm to reward “misinformation, toxicity, and violent content”; enabled horrifying crimes related to human trafficking and drug cartels; and allowed false claims about vaccines to swamp public health efforts.

Tweet from New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac on the rollout of Frances Haugen’s disclosure

After working closely with the Whistleblower Aid team to arrange for a powerful rollout in the Wall Street Journal, WEST arranged for Frances to make her identity public in an interview 60 Minutes, which resulted in additional coverage by a range of outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times. 

John Tye and Andrew Bakaj, attorneys with Whistleblower Aid, followed up with appearances on Morning Joe, CNBC, Out Front with Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper 360 discussing the case, and Haugen was the star witness at a congressional hearing that got worldwide attention.

The series is possible because of a courageous individual who, with the support of Whistleblower Aid, made lawful disclosures to the SEC and Congress detailing how the social media giant continually flouts basic safety standards in favor of increasing user engagement and the continued spread of misinformation. We are proud to have played our part in this transformative global story.

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