Whistleblower says Facebook enabled misinformation by eliminating safeguards too soon after the 2020 election, helping to fuel the Capitol riot, report says

Facebook campus
  • Facebook is mounting a defense against new allegations from a whistleblower, the New York Times reported.
  • The whistleblower says the company turned off crucial safety measures too soon after the 2020 US elections, like limits on live video.
  • These actions caused misinformation to spread quickly and gave rioters easy ways to plan the insurrection, the whistleblower is expected to reveal.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A former employee is accusing Facebook of relaxing election-related safeguards too soon, a move the whistleblower says contributed to the spread of misinformation and the lead-up of the deadly Capitol riot.

The New York Times reported the whistleblower, whose identity is not yet known, is planning to reveal the accusation on Sunday.

Facebook, in the meantime, is in preparation mode, according to an internal memo from the social media company obtained by the Times.

Facebook declined to comment.

The whistleblower says the company turned off some crucial safety measures like limits on live video too quickly following the 2020 presidential election, the Times reported. Actions like that caused misinformation to spread quickly and gave supporters of former President Donald Trump easy ways to plan the insurrection and tout false claims about voter fraud.

Facebook, which in the memo called the accusations "misleading," is mounting a defense.

"Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out," Facebook VP Nick Clegg wrote in the 1,500-word memo seen by the newspaper. "What evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization."

The whistleblower, who's expected to reveal their identity on Sunday in a "60 Minutes" interview, has been feeding the Wall Street Journal staggering information recently, including documents that revealed Facebook knew its apps and services could lead to body image issues for young girls. Facebook did not do much to reverse the adverse effects, the leaker has alleged.

The whistleblower also provided documents on a litany of other issues, including evidence alleging the company deceives the public and its investors about its campaigns to curtail or end hate, violence, and misinformation. Facebook was also almost booted by Apple's app store because human traffickers were actively using the site, the WSJ reported. Facebook said the Wall Street Journal reporting was "riddled with flaws."

Clegg's memo about the latest whistleblower claims was distributed to Facebook employees on Friday ahead of the expected CBS interview, the Times reported.

"We will continue to face scrutiny - some of it fair and some of it unfair," Clegg wrote in the memo. "But we should also continue to hold our heads up high."

Facebook declined to provide a copy of the memo to Insider. But it's available to read at the New York Times, which published it in full.

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