Facebook is slowing down product development for 'reputational reviews,' report says

The company is still reeling from fallout after a whistleblower told Congress the company puts profits ahead of safety.

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Facebook is reportedly slowing down its product development so it can conduct “reputational reviews” in the wake of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s disclosures about the company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has “put a hold on some work on existing products” while a team of employees analyze how the work could further damage their reputation. The group is looking at potential negative effects on children, as well as criticism the company could face.

Zuckerberg alluded to the change in a statement Tuesday — his first since the whistleblower’s disclosures became public. “I believe that over the long term if we keep trying to do what's right and delivering experiences that improve people's lives, it will be better for our community and our business,” he wrote. “I've asked leaders across the company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few days so you can see everything that we're doing to get there.”

The change is one of the clearest signs yet of how much Haugen’s disclosures have rocked the company in recent weeks. Facebook has already “paused” its work on an Instagram Kids app, after a WSJ report on company research showing Instagram is harmful to some teens’ mental health. Though Facebook has attempted to downplay its own research, pressure has mounted since Haugen, a former product manager, stepped forward and testified in a three-hour Senate hearing this week.

She told lawmakers Zuckerberg and other executives have prioritized the social network’s growth over users’ safety, and that the company has misled the public about its AI-based moderation technology. She’s called on Facebook to make its research more widely available, and urged Congress to impose new regulations on the platform.

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