Ruppersberger Says He’s Deactivating His Facebook, Instagram Accounts After Whistleblower Revelations
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is deactivating both his Facebook and Instagram accounts “until both its parent company and Congress make substantial reforms that protect our children, health and democratic values.”
Ruppersberger cited as a reason for his departure a Washington Post report that engineers from the company gave extra value to angry emoji reactions and promoted more provocative and “controversial” posts. Facebook’s data scientists found in 2019 that posts causing a reaction by an angry emoji were more likely to be toxic or contain misinformation, the Post reported, and were more likely to be promoted as a result of the company’s algorithm.
The revelations are part of the Facebook Papers, thousands of internal documents disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission by whistleblower and former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen. The documents were shared in a redacted form with Congress.
“Facebook’s basic business model sows division and disinformation and I can no longer use it — and promote it from my official mediums — in good conscience for the time being,” Ruppersberger said.
Haugen told Congress earlier this month that Facebook prioritized its own growth rather than combating misinformation. She said the result “has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats and more combat,” NPR reported.
“During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth: Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook,” Haugen told Congress. “The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world.”
Ruppersberger said that Facebook “must do better to police themselves,” but added that lawmakers must also respond to the revelations.
“Congress must also act and pass reasonable social media reforms,” Ruppersberger said. “I look forward to learning more about what we can do to promote change and supporting legislation to that effect.”
Ruppersberger will remain on Twitter, according to his statement, and constituents will still be able to call and email his office.