Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said Wednesday she was “extremely concerned” about the company’s plans to build a “Metaverse” – a virtual reality version of the Internet – over privacy issues.
In the face of a spate of bad publicity over Haugen’s revelations, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans late last month to create a digital world where people feel like they are face to face with virtual reality technology.
Speaking to the French parliament on Wednesday during a European tour, Haugen said she was “extremely concerned about the metaverse”.
Meta, formerly Facebook, “wants to fill our environment with sensors, microphones, and other types of surveillance,” and corporate adoption of the technology would be “super problematic”.
“Let’s imagine you work from home and your employer decides: ‘I want to be a Metaverse company’,” she told the legislator.
“You can’t decide if Facebook can spy on you like you can opt out of using Facebook in your personal life,” she added.
The former Facebook engineer has leaked a ton of internal documents to the media that have sparked weeks of criticism of the social media giant for its impact on fragile democracies and vulnerable youth.
During her testimony to American and European lawmakers last month, she insisted that Facebook prefers profit rather than restricting toxic content, and that the company cannot be trusted to change its ways.
Zuckerberg has hit back, saying that “the argument that we are deliberately distributing content that makes people angry at profit is profoundly illogical”.
Haugen, a 37-year-old data scientist, also told the French Parliament how she had handled scrutiny and public exposure since identifying herself as the main source of a series of explosive Wall Street Journal reports in early October.
“Providing psychological support is vital for many whistleblowers,” she said, adding that she was fortunate enough to be back with her mother last year due to the Covid-19 bans.
“My mother is a priestess and I’ve received countless hours of counseling and therapy,” she said.
“Most whistleblowers don’t have that level of support. It’s vital that there is someone to guide them through the process.”
Meta reported profits of $ 9 billion (approximately Rs. 67,074 billion) for the July-September quarter.