- Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before UK lawmakers on Monday.
- Haugen said it was cheaper to place “hateful” ads on Facebook because they get more engagement.
- Haugen said Facebook’s pricing was partially based on how likely users are to interact with an ad.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told British lawmakers Monday that placing “hateful, angry, divisive” ads on the company’s platform worked out cheaper than placing other kinds of adverts.
Haugen, who worked on Facebook’s civic integrity team before departing the company in May, appeared at a parliamentary select committee meeting about three weeks after she testified in front of the US Congress. She said that ads on Facebook were priced “partially based on the likelihood that people like them, reshare them, do other things to interact with them — click through on a link.”
“An ad that gets more engagement is a cheaper ad,” she said.
This made it “substantially” cheaper to run an “angry, hateful, divisive ad than it is to run a compassionate, empathetic ad,” she said.
“We have seen that over and over again in Facebook’s research it is easier to provoke people to anger than to empathy or compassion. And so we are literally subsidizing hate on these platforms,” she said.
Haugen repeated what she told US lawmakers during her senate hearing earlier this month: that she thinks engagement-based ranking on Facebook — optimizing content for what will get the most interaction from users — drives a lot of safety problems on the platform.
Haugen said in her testimony to Congress that Facebook’s own research showed this kind of engagement-based ranking leads the company’s algorithms to favor harmful content. On Monday, Haugen said this applies to ads on the platform as much as it applies to user-generated content.
Facebook did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment. Facebook has previously accused Haugen of mischaracterizing the company, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said some of her previous claims are “nonsensical.”
Numerous news organizations published stories about Facebook on Monday after reviewing company documents, known as the “Facebook Papers,” leaked by Haugen.