Facebook banned Web Summit ads featuring whistleblower Frances Haugen

  • André Veríssimo e Ana Marcela
  • 27 October 2021

The social network confirms that it has not banned ads featuring the whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Facebook has banned Web Summit ads featuring social network whistleblower Frances Haugen, revealed Paddy Cosgrove, co-founder of the tech summit, in an interview with ECO. A Facebook spokesperson denies that the social network has banned the ads. Frances Haugen kicks off this year’s edition of the summit in Lisbon, on November 1. Around 40,000 attendees are expected this year at Parque das Nações during the four days of the Web Summit.

“We cannot advertise Frances Haugen’s [Facebook whistleblower] presence at Web Summit. Facebook has banned all ads that have a reference to Frances Haugen because it is considered political content. We can do it on other platforms, but not on Facebook or Instagram,” said Paddy Cosgrove in an interview with ECO.

To ECO, the spokesperson denies that the social network has banned the ads. “We do allow ads with references to Frances Haugen and there are active ads in our Ad Library, including from Web Summit, which prove this,” (s)he says in reaction to the news. “We are investigating the concerns raised, but claims that we have rejected Web Summit ads for containing references to Frances Haugen are not true,” (s)he reinforces.

The whistleblower of the social network created by Mark Zuckerberg is one of the figures that will kick off the tech summit – joined by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement – and brings her testimony to the summit stage at the Altice Arena. A former employee of the social network, Frances Haugen has publicly revealed internal documents that, she says, prove Facebook is lying about the effectiveness of its efforts to combat hate speech, violence and false information on the social network.

The case has put the social network under heavy public scrutiny, with the latest figures indicating that it has been losing users in the US. Could the golden age of social media be ending? “Making predictions in tech is a very dangerous thing. Who could have predicted that Tesla would today be worth more than all the other publicly listed carmakers? It’s impossible to predict the future,” Paddy Cosgrove explains.

“It’s an interesting time. It’s nice to have Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon all at the (Web Summit) event. And to be able to have these difficult conversations,” comments the founder of the tech summit. “A lot of events don’t talk about taxes, antitrust monopolies, data privacy. We get to have those conversations. The year 2021 is the most challenging year for big tech and I think it’s the start of a challenging decade. Which is good for innovation and for smaller companies.”

(article last updated at 3h52 pm)