News from October 27th, Beijing time,The uproar of whistleblowers exposed the incident once again dragging the social giant Facebook into the discussion of interests and ethics, which was condemned by the media. Since the beginning of this month, Facebook’s stock price has fallen by about 10%, and its market value has evaporated by approximately US$90 billion (approximately 576 billion yuan).This incident was able to cause an uproar because the whistleblower Frances Haugen (Frances Haugen) produced “strong evidence”: thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents.
Facebook whistleblower Hogan
Hoogen resigned from Facebook earlier this year and took away thousands of pages of documents mentioning a series of social harms. Unlike the famous whistleblower incident in the past, she does not have to go through the file cabinet or secretly use the Xerox copier to copy these documents. In fact, the way she gets this information is similar to how billions of users around the world use Facebook every day. According to Haogen’s legal team, she just browsed Facebook’s internal social network and usedcell phoneTake pictures.
It is these documents that help the outside world understand how Facebook contributed to the January 6th U.S. Congressional riots, the power wielded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the ripple effect that Facebook created in countries around the world.
In the past month, Haugen has been on the headlines of the media for exposing Facebook, testified in Congress, accepted an interview with the “60 Minutes” program, and became the cover character of “Time” magazine. Her revelation has caused a storm. Facebook is reportedly considering changing its name.
Since Juhaogen revealed the Facebook scandal earlier this month, Facebook’s stock price has fallen by approximately 10%, and its market value has evaporated by approximately US$90 billion (approximately 576 billion yuan). However, there are other reasons for Facebook’s share price decline, including third-quarter revenue that did not meet analyst expectations.
Facebook share price
Who is Hogan?
Haugen is 37 years old and is a graduate of computer science and Harvard Business School. As an entrepreneur and employee in Silicon Valley, Haogen has a successful career. She once co-founded the popular dating app Hinge with others, and worked for some well-known technology companies, including Google and Pinterest.
In 2019, Hogan joined Facebook, just two years after the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal broke out on Facebook. She originally hoped that she could help change Facebook from within the company, but she failed to do so. As a result, she leaked confidential documents to the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, which published a series of exposing articles that exposed the inconsistencies between Facebook’s internal research and public statements on the social impact of its products. Haogen has filed a whistleblower complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the “Dodd-Frank Act”, once the SEC takes civil enforcement action, Haogen can get 10% to 30% of the fine that Facebook is forced to pay.
How did she take the files?
Affected by the new crown epidemic, Hoogen conducted telecommuting. She accessed files on the company’s internal social network and took photos with her mobile phone.
That’s it. Facebook employees use the version of Facebook called Workplace as a work tool, which is almost identical to the public version of Facebook. Facebook also sells Workplace as a tool to outside companies to compete with Slack, another enterprise communication tool.
Confidential information is often contained in Facebook internal network posts. The documents show that Facebook employees comment on internal files in exactly the same way as others comment on photos of their friends’ babies. Haogen did not download these files or screenshots, which is more likely to arouse suspicion. Instead, he used his mobile phone to take pictures.
According to Hogan’s friend Leslie Fine (Leslie Fine), Hogan wanted to find and correct Facebook’s problems, but she felt that the job had not made progress. Not willing to just resign, she decided to collect documents and publish them publicly, hoping that public pressure could force Facebook to make changes.
In an interview with “60 Minutes”, Haogen said that she wanted to prove that Facebook puts the company’s profits above public safety. One of Facebook’s motto is “not to make money by developing services, but to make money to develop better services.”
Why is Facebook’s secrecy work so bad?
According to Haogen’s legal team, most of the files she took can also be seen by many other Facebook employees. Haogen works in the Citizen Integrity Team and is responsible for dealing with false information. However, even if she is not on the team, she may be able to access the same files. A former Facebook employee revealed that the company has begun to restrict access to files.
In the early days of Silicon Valley, Facebook was a noisy startup company, and it had established an open corporate culture, at least from the perspective of its expanding corporate campus boundaries. A former Facebook employee said that Zuckerberg decided to trust the company’s employees and let them know the company’s secrets. Facebook provides a two-way agreement that allows employees to express their opinions in weekly company-wide Q&A meetings, but it also imposes severe penalties on employees who abandon this trust. “The reality is that we have an open culture.” Zuckerberg said on a conference call on Monday.
Such thorough transparency cannot be achieved by every technology company. The most similar to Facebook is Google, and the two companies are on the same road. About ten years ago, many Google executives and employees jumped to Facebook.
There are several advantages to this. It can listen to the opinions of employees throughout the company, not just the employees’ departments. It can help employees transfer to different positions, maintain their interest in work, and let them find the most suitable position for them. This transparency also allows employees to feel that they are really part of the company, not just a meaningless cog in the machine. However, the price of having the privilege of knowing Facebook’s sensitive information is that if a leak is discovered, the employee will be fired.
“Since earlier this year, we have been discussing the right model of company information sharing, finding a balance between openness and sharing important information and maintaining focus. This work is ongoing and we are committed to building an open company culture. “Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever (Dani Lever) said.
Confidentiality settings of Google and Apple
Google has an independent internal search engine called Moma. Google employees can enter search terms in Moma, and then they will see a list of search results that looks a lot like a Google search. However, there are no links to auto insurance ads or Wikipedia in the search results. What they see are company file titles, some of which are confidential or enjoy the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege.
According to current and former Google employees, just a few years ago, Google also allowed employees’ Google docs to be accessible to all employees of the company. This means that almost everyone within Google can read Google’s secret plans without much effort, and even provide suggestions to employees working on these plans in the form of comments.
However, this openness has faded. Although confidential documents will still appear in Moma search results, it is unlikely that they will be allowed to be accessed by all employees of the company. Google made this adjustment after a group of Google employees protested because of improper sexual behavior of executives.
In contrast, Apple’s confidentiality work is much stricter. Most Apple employees have no idea what is happening around them. Apple’s mode of operation is more like the government’s handling of state secrets, keeping it secret to everyone except those with appropriate security clearances. Many Apple employees even keep their spouses secret in their work.
This can’t help but reminiscent of Apple in the early years. At that time, Apple often surprises customers and software developers by releasingiPod,iMacas well asiPhoneWait for new hardware products. The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was an amazing performer, and his style of releasing new Apple products on stage even triggered a personal adoration of him. If people knew the content of the conference, then such a powerful performance would be impossible to talk about.
Apple has formed a strong “global security” team consisting of former law enforcement officials whose job is to prevent leaks. Apple even threatened employees, if they leak product update information, they will face jail.
However, this level of confidentiality also has an added benefit, that is, Apple employees are unlikely to take away a large number of files from the company like Hoogen did when they leave. Apple has not yet commented.
Is it legal to leak documents?
Haogen leaked internal Facebook documents to reporters, congressmen, and regulators. Is it legal to do so? Hoogen’s lawyers believe this is legal. Legal experts said that although Facebook is always likely to challenge this claim, the United States has introduced a number of federal whistleblower laws that allow employees of private companies to disclose information about their employers if the disclosure is improper.
The most famous of these is the federal False Claim Act, which aims to prevent government contractors from defrauding taxpayers. According to this law, whistleblowers can file lawsuits on behalf of the government and receive up to 30% of the damages recovered.
The “Dodd-Frank Act” is a Wall Street reform and consumer protection law designed to respond to the 2008 financial crisis, including the SEC’s whistleblower law. According to this law, whistleblowers can get up to 30% of the fine that the person at fault is forced to pay. The SEC will not disclose the details of the whistleblower’s case, but will announce the amount of rewards the whistleblower has received. In September of this year, an unidentified SEC whistleblower received a $110 million reward.
The whistleblower protection law actually abolishes the confidentiality agreement and allows employees to disclose information that the company may consider “confidential”, as long as the information they share is related to the allegation and is legal.
Will more whistleblowers come forward?
This is currently unknown. Hoogen’s legal team stated that they have received inquiries from other potential whistleblowers. Another whistleblower filed an anonymous complaint with the SEC last week. The essence of reporting is that this information is confidential, at least at the beginning. If the employees of the technology company are eager to contact the whistleblower lawyer, hoping to make a fortune, then all this is going on in secret at the moment. (Author/Xiao Yu)