Facebook Whistleblower Won’t Change Anything

Tell the truth, predicting the future is not my strong suit (and I have a trophy to prove it) —But here’s a prediction I made with full confidence: The latest Facebook revelations, in good faith whistleblower Frances Haugen, there is zero regulatory effect. There are no new laws, no new regulations, no new challenges that matter. And the issue is not Haugen’s testimony or suggestion (not that there is no issue with both), nor the absence of some of the questions he got in return (here). The issue, however, is with the expectations we place on whistleblowing. The idea we have is what whistleblowing can achieve.

If whistleblowing has an archetypal story, it’s like this. A position within an organization, each individual, faces some central injustice perpetuated by the organization. Sometimes the motive is company profit, sometimes it’s personal profit, but whatever the reason, there’s a problem with one man having cigars while others around the world-including retailers-don’t know it. the damages done. Great self -risk, everyone informing the public with their concerns: the truth will come out. There were hearings announced, laws published, laws passed – the sclerotic foot management machinery started the device, and people handling their cigars were exchanged for handcuffs. Hidden: Sherron Watkins, Cynthia Cooper, o Daniel Ellsberg.

It’s a popular idea of ​​how change happens, and its popularity isn’t surprising, given the change these riffs promise in some mythological factors in American society. It’s built on the assumption of good intentions-on the idea that, some ne’er-do-wells, regulators (and organizational staff, and legislators) ultimately rely solely on the right information to ensure justice is done. It is built on assumptions about the importance of the individual whistleblower – the individual, complete cessation. Not surprisingly, in a cultural milieu where individualism is so loved (although, the letter of Rodrigo Nunes, left), we hold the whistleblower as a path to justice. But now, murmuring doesn’t make those actions that much more possible; on the contrary, as I have written before, with its insistence on the individual expert as the source of change, they find it even more difficult to sustain. Precisely because it honors the lone, public, heroic man, the idea of ​​whistleblowing actively undermines the less-than-beautiful work necessary to sustain activity.

These assumptions hide some unfortunate facts of their own. They defend, for example, how central the identity and vision of the “whistleblower” is to what they receive. Many people have, rightly so, highlighted the different experiences of Frances Haugen and Sophie Zhang: the formerly kind white woman whose worries can’t stop her from arguing as needed on Facebook not broken, the latter an Asian American woman who saw Facebook’s ideology and financial interests as fundamentally constrain efforts to solve these problems. Only one of them has heard a congressional ruling. We can compare the same to Alex Stamos, whose leaving Facebook in 2016 resulted in an offer to write your own work at Stanford, and contrasts it all with the height of Timnit Gebru, who was fired by Google for (until even who can determine) has temerity to be angry while Black. As in Daniela Aghostino, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, ug I noticed noticed different points, who was telling the truth, things. Whatever that fact is, cause. Stories with legs — drawn from the status quo — are likely to be the ones that challenge it the most.

Even if the treatment of whistleblowers is completely neutral (whatever that means), they still can’t save us. Because of that etc. speculation hidden behind whistleblowing: that truth is the only one standing between the present and a righteous future. It’s hard to see how, exactly, this idea lines up with our current reality. In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Law, inspired (in part) by their vulgarization of Cooper and Watkins, was passed into law after a 423–3 vote in the House of Representatives and a 99-0 vote in the Senate. In contrast, today has seen a struggle to get even a cross-party vote on issues as non-controversial as “the government should. avoid being in debt to it.

In this environment, whistleblowing cannot save us, because the issue is not a loss of information but a loss of will. And what dictates change, and changes behaviors, is not as a solitary statement of fact, but the movements of people who set new standards and are explained that there is costs to regulators and companies not attending to them.

Does this mean whistleblowing is useless? Not really. The information always has the potential to be used if deployed correctly. But the unethical behavior of whistleblowing – tell some unscrupulous newspapers, tell some legislators, and the work is done – is useless. The most generous explanation is that these numbers actually believe it is the labor; that they have the aforementioned faith in the institutions they expose. The less generous interpretation is that it is, to some extent, a secular form of confession: an addition to the souls of fellow figures seeking to be forgiven (excuse that, by the same coincidence, sets them up for a whole new career as the “acceptable” and “safe” technology critic, along with a contract for a lesser book and a mostly useless research institutions).

But if whistleblowing-as-usual doesn’t change anything, what we need is a different way to approach whistleblowing and disclosures, a way to treat the knowledge of whistleblowers as just a tool in a broader repertoire, and their expertise as a stock of knowledge in a broader field of caring, invested, and intelligent actors.

Instead of fulfilling their moral responsibilities by exposing regulators and walking to start their own think tank, whistleblowers may seek to strengthen, attract attention, and participate in many past movements. for transformation in this area-movements led and driven by those people most affected by excess technology. Our Data Bodies, ang carceral tech resistance network, ang Detroit Community Technology Project; all of these collectives and organizations have been working on the problems of surveillance, power and injustice in data and technology since long before Haugen (or Harris, o Willis, o, o, o…) became a critic. They may want to join a ecology in activity; a wide variety of actors coordinating for change rather than competing for visibility.

Think if, than reveal to The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, Frances Haugen (yes anyone in the whole series of other self-appointed moral compasses) reveals those movements. If they go to those who already have an organization, who are already doing the work, who can think of the knowledge they have brought, and done those unions the focus of the story. Imagine if they used the attention that came from the information they brought in so as not to focus their (individual, internal) perspective on what the change would look like, but the long-term thinking of people who viscerally experienced in consequence whistleblowers find themselves more abstractly squirming over. Imagine if we, the public, and they, the regulators, would see proposals not from a Silicon Valley coder but from community organizers, street activists, and trainers who primarily know- an that the need is not a messiah but an activity.

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