Its objective is to fight against the dark side of social networks. Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee who leaked embarrassing internal documents for the social media giant last year, has just launched an organization responsible for “cleaning up social networks”, this Thursday, September 22.
Named “Beyond the Screen” (in French: “Beyond the screen”), the NGO “will focus on concrete solutions to help users regain control of their experience on social networks”, a- she said in a press release. It also specifies that the organization will create an open source database to document the legal and ethical breaches of major platforms and identify solutions. The idea is to give “tangible solutions” to users to help them take control of their use of the platforms. “Social media can allow us to perform at our best, and that’s what Beyond the Screen will work towards,” she added.
Funded in part by billionaire Frank McCourt
“Before, each of us could only see what was on our own screen,” she said to the American media. Politico. “What’s changed with the disclosures is that we now know what’s going on beyond our own screens. It’s changed the math on how we approach all of these businesses.”
Thanks to fundraising, the American has already raised nearly $5 million. She has also obtained the support of American billionaire Frank McCourt, also owner of Olympique de Marseille. These financings are made within the framework of the “Project Liberty” campaign, also led by the businessman. The project wants to promote a more decentralized version of the digital world. It intends to “return ownership and control of personal data to individuals”. According to Politico, the amount of Frank McCourt’s check to Frances Haugen is said to be in the six figures, but the exact sum has not been disclosed.
A battle in time
Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old computer engineer, is behind the “Facebook papers”. She made a name for herself last year by leaking more than 20,000 confidential internal Facebook notes, including studies proving the harmfulness The whistleblower then detailed to the American press the company’s methods of attracting young users and constantly increasing their consumption of its platforms, Instagram in particular.
Since then, Frances Haugen has been convinced of the need to legislate, in particular thanks to the Digital Services Act (DSA), because according to her the firm favors profit over the safety of its users. She criticizes her former employer for a lack of transparency and calls for a reform from the States to regulate the platform and social networks in general.
After a speech before the American Senate and the British parliamentarians, Frances Haugen was invited last November to speak before the French deputies of the Economic Affairs Commission and the Law Commission, to come back to her revelations. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, denies all these accusations. “We are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use internal documents to paint a false picture of our business,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s quarterly earnings presentation in October 2021.