Former Facebook public policy director for global elections Katie Harbath says social media and tech platforms might lead to future political violence.
“I still believe social media has done more good than harm in politics, but it’s close,” she said to the WSJ. “Maybe it’s 52-48—and trending south.”
Harbath left Facebook last year. She’s now part of the Integrity Institute, yet another group that advises lawmakers in the US and Europe on laws promoting more regulation of social media. She’s also a fellow at several think tanks that focus on election issues.
Despite the massive amount of censorship that Facebook has implemented in the last few years, a move that has driven many users to seek out alternative platforms, Harbath is one of those who believes that Facebook needs to do more.
Harbath is part of a growing number of former employees who have openly criticized the company. She does not believe the company is willing to address the problems she says it causes.
“I’m disappointed in leadership and I hate the fact that I’m disappointed in leadership,” she said of the company.
According to Harbath, the company is focused on daily crises rather than proactive planning. Her plans to prepare for the 2024 elections were dismissed. She said politicians will continue exploiting online platforms if they do not distinguish between paid political propaganda and news.
“While they’re right that they don’t deserve sole blame, there should be more soul-searching,” she says.
Facebook’s spokesperson Andy Stone told the Wall Street Journal that the company was heavily invested in preparing for the election.
According to documents reviewed by the WSJ, employees in the integrity team felt that the policy team prioritized politics and business over potential harm to users.
Harbath said that Facebook’s leadership worked under the assumption that the more the platform was used the more likely it was for governments to be more transparent.