The Facebook whistleblower is a Harvard Business School graduate whose technical wizardry has revolutionized some of the world’s greatest apps.
Frances Haugen emerged on prime-time television on Sunday as the tipster who quietly leaked thousands of pages of company documents to journalists, lawyers and lawmakers.
She built her career more quietly in Silicon Valley while working for tech giants like Google, where she launched her first book-reading app. She founded Yelp’s photo quality team and said it’s why menu photos are available in the app.
And in 2011, at the age of 27, she co-founded and marketed Hinge precursor Secret Agent Cupid. The dating app that focuses on long-term connections is worth more than $75 million today, according to PitchBook.
As the source behind malicious leaks about Facebook, she claimed it deliberately wanted to fuel discontent, chose “profit over security” and disabled “guarantees” designed to stop the spread of misinformation after the 2020 election.
Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen worked for some of the world’s biggest names
She revealed herself during a 60 Minutes interview as the leaker of thousands of Facebook documents
Haugen, the daughter of University of Iowa professors, said she grew up attending caucuses in Iowa with her parents, which led to “a strong sense of pride in democracy and responsibility for civic participation.”
Her mother put her biochemical work aside in 2012 to become an Episcopalian priest.
Her now infamous career began after she graduated from Olin College, where a former professor described her as an exemplary student.
“Not only was she brilliant as most of our students were and are, she was enthusiastic, she was committed…She was the student who always raised her hand,” said engineering professor Debbie Chachra. The Boston Globe.
She later tweeted, “I’m incredibly proud of Frances for living her values and changing the world.”
Haugen graduated from Olin with degrees in electrical and computer engineering, and later earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School.
While working as a product manager for Google, Haugen launched his first book reading app
Before being tapped to join Facebook in June 2019, the algorithmic product management expert had worked on ranking algorithms at tech giants such as Google, Pinterest and Yelp.
During her two years at Facebook, she was a product manager on the “civic disinformation” team and later worked on “counter-espionage.”
“During her time at Facebook, Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company is making to prioritize their own profits over public safety and endanger people’s lives,” her personal website reads. “As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous decision to whistle on Facebook.”
At the age of 27, she launched a dating app known today as Hinge, worth an estimated $75 million.
During her two years at Facebook, she was the tech giant’s product manager on the “civic disinformation” team, and ironically later worked on “counter-espionage.”
Haugen said she joined Facebook in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation after a close friend was radicalized online.
She left the company in May.
“I felt compelled to take an active role in creating a better, less toxic Facebook,” she wrote in a prepared statement to Congress.
She said in a statement to Congress she felt “forced” to create a “less toxic” Facebook
She left Facebook in May, saying she knows coming forward can have consequences
“…I came forward because I recognized a terrifying truth: Hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside Facebook.”
In a video on Gofundme — where donors have raised more than $30,000 for Haugen — the whistleblower said she acknowledged coming forward could have catastrophic consequences.
“I understand that Facebook has the resources — and possibly the motivation — to ruin my life,” she said. “But I also accept it because I know I’m aligned with my values and what I believe in.”