Large leaks of private documents, derived from journalistic investigations, have recently been baptized with the name “papers” in the press. A recent example is the Pandora Papers, which a couple of weeks ago revealed a series of tax crimes of public figures from different parts of the world.
Now Facebook has its own episode, the Facebook Papers, which is the result of a series of documents provided by Frances Haugen, former Facebook product manager and now a whistleblower in this case, managed collaboratively by press organizations.
A journalistic team that brought together 17 U.S. news organizations, including small media and large agencies, worked collaboratively to access thousands of internal Facebook documents, originally obtained by Haugen.
In parallel, a similar team of European communicators had access to the same data sources. Since yesterday, in a coordinated manner, each communication platform began to disseminate content with its own analysis of the information gathered.
Since yesterday, all the media involved gradually began to publish the information, facilitating the knowledge of the most relevant aspects of each case and granting the corresponding right of reply to Facebook’s public relations staff.
Frances Haugen is already a public figure closely linked to these accusations. Before the publication of the Facebook Papers, the former executive of the company had already declared before the Securities and Exchange Commission that the social network was prioritizing its commercial/economic indicators over the safety of its users, hiding its own investigation from investors and the public, in order to maintain the image they were trying to project, regardless of the consequences.
The issues surrounding this case are varied. Interference in political affairs, with cases of incitement to violence; efforts to grow its active user base; an unknown lawsuit with Apple that almost took Facebook out of the App Store, for being used in the Middle East for the maid trade and even ignored warnings about how its platforms could harm children, are part of the issues addressed by this journalistic investigation, while the same background is collected and investigated by the U.S. Congress.
New background information is expected to continue to emerge. Haugen’s collection of documents is more extensive than what is known today, but her legal team is taking care to censor the names of the Facebook users and employees involved before providing them to Congress or the press.
Frances Haugen was only with the company for two years, but that was long enough to be filled with enough disappointment to motivate her to take action, as she revealed.
The team of reporters and media behind the Facebook Papers will continue to publish information about these documents as more data becomes available in the coming days and weeks. Therefore, news about Facebook will continue to fill not only the technology columns, but also those related to judicial and economic issues.