Haugen’s prominence has been cited as a sign of a growing wave of Big Tech whistleblowers. In Senate testimony in October, Haugen alleged the company did not make any changes to Instagram even after internal research showed apparent damage to some teens and did not do enough to combat the speeches of hate and misinformation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged his accounts, calling them a “false image” of the company, but shared his view that the government needed to update its internet regulations.
Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Haugen is a data expert with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Olin College and a master’s in commerce from Harvard. She already had 15 years of experience at tech companies, including Google and Yelp, before being hired by Facebook in 2019 and joining its Civic Integrity Unit as Senior Product Manager.
Haugen and others said Facebook eliminated the Civic Integrity Unit after the November 2020 election – Facebook says the unit was not eliminated, but integrated into a larger team. Haugen said she had become convinced that the company could not be trusted to “actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.” She quit Facebook in May, but not before spending weeks reviewing and copying documents.