Facebook Orders Staff Not To Destroy Internal Documents

Facebook has issued a legal notice to all staff, as it faces growing pressure over the release of its internal documents and research by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

On Monday Haugen testified before the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill, where she once again alleged that Facebook’s inaction was due to the platform putting profit before safety, not wanting to sacrifice its growth.

This was Haugen’s second appearance before lawmakers, after the former Facebook executive had testified before the US Senate in Washington DC on 5 October, amid allegations that Facebook knew Instagram was harming teenagers.

Whistleblower fallout

Haugen left her job at Facebook’s civic integrity unit, but not before she secretly copied a host of internal research documents.

She first gave the documents to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which reported on the internal research which suggested that Instagram had a harmful effect on teenagers, particularly teen girls.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg disputed the report, and have repeatedly said a false picture is being painted about the company.

But the damaging headlines for Facebook continued, after the internal research documents that Haugen ‘took’ from Facebook were released on Monday 25 October, as the so called ‘Facebook Papers project’.

This is essentially a collaboration among multiple American news organisations, who have worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen.

These media organisations began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials on Monday, 25 October.

Legal hold notice

Now the New York Times has reported that Facebook has told all its staff to preserve all internal documents and communications for legal reasons.

Earlier in October, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to preserve all documents related to a testimony from Haugen.

“On Tuesday, Facebook sent a legal hold notice to all personnel,” a Facebook spokesperson reportedly said. “Document preservation requests are part of the process of responding to legal inquiries.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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