Facebook whistleblower is a Harvard grad raised who worked for Silicon Valley’s biggest names

Facebook’s whistleblower is a Harvard Business School grad whose technical wizardry helped revolutionize some of the world’s biggest apps.

Frances Haugen outed herself on primetime television Sunday as the tipster who quietly leaked thousands of pages of company documents to journalists, lawyers, and lawmakers.

She more quietly built her career in Silicon Valley while working for tech giants such as Google, where she launched its first book reading app. She founded Yelp’s photo quality team, and said is the reason menu photos are available on the app.

And in 2011, at age 27, she co-founded Hinge precursor Secret Agent Cupid, and took it to market. The dating app that focuses on long-term connections is today worth more than $75million, according to PitchBook.

As the source behind damaging leaks about Facebook, she claimed it deliberately sought to stoke discontent, ‘chose profit over safety,’ and turned off ‘safeguards’ designed to stop the proliferation of misinformation following the 2020 election.

Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen worked for some of the tech world's biggest names

Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen worked for some of the tech world's biggest names

Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen worked for some of the tech world’s biggest names

She outed herself during a 60 Minutes interview as the leaker of thousands of Facebook docs

She outed herself during a 60 Minutes interview as the leaker of thousands of Facebook docs

She outed herself during a 60 Minutes interview as the leaker of thousands of Facebook docs

Haugen, the daughter of University of Iowa professors, said she grew up attending Iowa caucuses with her parents, which instilled ‘a strong sense of pride in democracy and responsibility for civic participation’.

Her mother put her biochemistry 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.

‘She was not just brilliant as most of our students were and are, she was enthusiastic, she was committed… She was the student who always had her hand up,’ engineering professor Debbie Chachra told The Boston Globe.

She later tweeted: ‘I am incredibly proud of Frances for living her values and effecting change in the world.’

Haugen graduated from Olin with a degree in electrical and computer engineer, and later earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School.

While working as a product manager for Google, Haugen launched its first book reading app

While working as a product manager for Google, Haugen launched its first book reading app

While working as a product manager for Google, Haugen launched its 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 with Facebook, she served as product manager on the ‘civic misinformation’ team, and later worked on ‘counter-espionage.’

‘During her time at Facebook, Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes prioritizing their own profits over public safety and putting people’s lives at risk,’ it says on her personal website. ‘As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Facebook.’

At 27, she launched a dating app that's today known as Hinge, worth an estimated $75million

At 27, she launched a dating app that's today known as Hinge, worth an estimated $75million

At 27, she launched a dating app that’s today known as Hinge, worth an estimated $75million

During her two years with Facebook, she was the tech giant's product manager on the ‘civic misinformation’ team, and ironically later worked on ‘counter-espionage'

During her two years with Facebook, she was the tech giant's product manager on the ‘civic misinformation’ team, and ironically later worked on ‘counter-espionage'

During her two years with Facebook, she was the tech giant’s product manager on the ‘civic misinformation’ 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 that she felt 'compelled' to create a 'less toxic' Facebook

She said in a statement to Congress that she felt 'compelled' to create a 'less toxic' Facebook

She said in a statement to Congress that she felt ‘compelled’ to create a ‘less toxic’ Facebook

She left Facebook in May, and said she knows coming forward could have consequences

She left Facebook in May, and said she knows coming forward could have consequences

She left Facebook in May, and said she knows coming forward could have consequences

‘…I came forward because I recognized a frightening truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook.’

In a video posted to Gofundme – where donors have raised more than $30,000 for Haugen – the whistleblower said she recognized that coming forward could have catastrophic consequences.

‘I understand Facebook has the resources – and potentially the motivation – to ruin my life,’ she said. ‘But I also accept it, because I know I am aligned with my values, and what I believe in.’

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