In her first testimony to U.S. Congress on Tuesday, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said the company is exacerbating “ethnic tensions in Ethiopia.”
The company does this by amplifying toxic and harmful content that goes viral because it contains anger and is riddled with violence, Haugen said.
She said with more than 100 million people in Ethiopia and six languages, Facebook integrity system only supports two of the languages, and does virtually nothing about the rest.
An internal U.S. government report published by the New York Times early this year accused the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of leading an ethnic cleansing in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
The devastating security and humanitarian situation in Tigray has continued to worsen since a conflict exploded there in November last year with the United Nations warning that hundreds of thousands of people in the region now face an increased risk of famine.
“In Tigray, children are starving to death in a man-made famine. Clinics and hospitals, stripped bare of even basic medicines, are filled with their faint, pitiful cries. The UN published some of its most disturbing statistics ever: almost four out of five pregnant or nursing mothers were acutely malnourished,” writes Alex de Waal, the Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Haugen mentioned Ethiopia several times in her testimony, emphasizing that the company was worsening the ethnic tensions there.
Haugen called on the United States Congress to act to demand more accountability from Facebook, especially when it comes to children and democracy.
She said the company was aware of the hell it was raising around the world and profiting from it, asserting that anger and division is what keep people glued to Facebook.