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At This Hour
Facebook Whistleblower Testifies Before Senate; Police Take Suspect into Custody Outside U.S. Supreme Court; CA Officials Notified of Oil Sheen 12 Hours Before Leak Reported. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired October 05, 2021 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: So, thank you. Ms. Haugen, do you agree that Facebook actively seeks to attract children and teens on Twitter platforms?
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook actively marketed to children -- or marketed to children under the age of 18 to get on Instagram and definitely targets children as young as eight to be on Messenger Kids.
MARKEY: An internal Facebook document from 2020 that you reveal, it reads, why do we care about tweens, they are valuable but uncapped audience. So, Facebook only cares about children to the extent that they are a monetary value.
Last week, Facebook's Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis told me that Facebook does not allow targeting of certain harmful content to teens. Ms. Davis stated we don't allow weight loss ads to be shown to people under the age of 18. Yet a recent study found that Facebook permitted targeting of teens as young as 13, with ads to choke a young woman's thin waist promoting websites that glorify anorexia. Ms. Haugen, have based on your time at Facebook, do you think Facebook is telling the truth?
HAUGEN: I think Facebook has focused on scale over safety and is likely that they're using artificial intelligence to try to identify harmful ads without allowing the public oversight to see what is the actual effectiveness of those safety systems.
MARKEY: You unearth Facebook's research about its harm to teens, did you raise this issue with your supervisors?
HAUGEN: I did not work directly on anything involving teen mental health. This research is freely available to anyone in the company.
MARKEY: Mr. Davis testified last week, "We don't allow tobacco ads at all. We don't allow them to children either. We don't allow alcohol ads to minors. However, researchers also found that Facebook does allow targeting of teens with ads on vaping." Ms. Haugen, based on your time at Facebook, do you think Facebook is telling the truth?
HAUGEN: I do not have context on that issue. I assume that if they are using artificial intelligence to catch those vape ads, unquestionably ads are making its way through.
MARKEY: OK. So, from my perspective, listening to you and your incredibly courageous revelations time and time again, Facebook says one thing and does another. Time and time again, Facebook fails to abide by the commitments that they had made. Time and time again, Facebook lies about what they are doing.
Yesterday Facebook had a platform outage, but for years it has had a principal's outage, its only real principle is profit. Facebook's platforms are not safe for young people. As you said Facebook is like big tobacco, enticing young kids with that first cigarettes. That first social media account designed to hook kids as users for life.
Ms. Haugen, you know, whistleblowing shows that Facebook uses harmful features that quantify popularity, push manipulative, influencer marketing, amplify harmful content to teens. And last week in this committee, Facebook wouldn't even commit to not using these features on 10-year-olds. Facebook is built on computer codes of misconduct.
Senator Blumenthal and I have introduced the Kids Internet Design and Safety Act, the KIDS Act. You've asked us to act as a committee. And Facebook has scores of lobbyists in the city right now coming in right after this hearing to tell us we can't act. And they've been successful for a decade in blocking this committee from acting. So, let me ask you a question. The Kids Internet Design and Safety Act or the KIDS Act, here's what the legislation does, and includes outright bans on children's app features that one quantified popularity with likes and follower counts, promotes, two -- the two, promotes influencer marketing. And three that amplifies of toxic posts and that would prohibit Facebook from using its algorithms to promote toxic posts. Should we pass that legislation?
HAUGEN: I strongly encourage your forums that push us towards human scale social media and not computer driven social media. Those amplification harms are caused by computers choosing what's important to us, not our friends and family. And I encourage any system that children are exposed to, to not use amplification systems.
MARKEY: So, you agree that Congress has to enact these special protections for children and teens that stop social media companies from manipulating young users and threatening their wellbeing, to stop using its algorithm to harm kids, you agree with that?
HAUGEN: I do believe Congress must act to protect children.
MARKEY: And children and teens also needed privacy online, bill of rights on the author of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. But it's only for kids under 13, because the industry stopped me from making at age 16, in 1998, because that was already their business model. But we need to update that law for the 21st century.
Tell me if this should pass, one, create an online eraser button, so that young users can tell websites to delete the data they have collected about them. Two give young teens under the age of 16, and their parents control of their information. And three, ban targeted ads to children?
HAUGEN: I support all those actions.
MARKEY: Thank you. And finally, I've also introduced the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act, which would, one, the hood on Facebook and big text algorithms so, we know how Facebook is using our data to decide what content we see. And two, ban discriminatory algorithms that harm vulnerable populations online, like showing employment and housing ads to white people, but not to black people in our country. Should Congress pass that bill.
HAUGEN: Algorithmic bias issues are a major issue for our democracy. During my time at Pinterest, I became very aware of the challenges of -- like I mentioned before, it's difficult for us to understand how these algorithms actually act and perform. Facebook is aware of complaints today by people like African Americans, saying that Realz doesn't give African Americans the same distribution as white people. And until we have transparency and our ability to confirm ourselves, the Facebook's marketing messages are true, we will not have a system that is compatible with democracy.
MARKEY: So, and I thank Senator Lee, I agree with you. And your line of questions. I wrote Facebook asking them to explain that discrepancy. Because Facebook I think is lying about targeting 13 to 15-year-olds.
So, here's my message for Mark Zuckerberg, your time of invading our privacy, promoting toxic content and preying on children and teens is over. Congress will be taking action. You can work with us or not work with us. But we will not allow your company to harm our children and our families and our democracy any longer. Thank you, Ms. Haugen, we will act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks Senator Markey. We're going to --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So interesting, so important. Hey, Kate Bolduan. We've been listening to the testimony from the Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen. Her testimony before the Senate hearing comes just after she revealed her identity in that bombshell interview was 16 minutes where she's levelled, damning accusations against Facebook, saying it is putting -- has been and is putting profits ahead of safety. She has 10s of 1000s of documents that she has leaked internal documents showing what she says that Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. And that is what we've been seeing play out in this Senate hearing.
Let's get into it. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, he's been standing by watching all of this from Capitol Hill, CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig and Katie Harbath, she's a former Public Policy Director at Facebook, she's with us as well.
Donie, I think, one, what is most compelling about the testimony from Frances Haugen is not only what she's saying, but she also talks like a normal person. You don't need a master's degree in Facebook to understand what she's saying and how it impacts all of our lives? DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Frances Haugen is Facebook's worst nightmare. She is articulate, she is compelling. And she's speaking like a human being. You know, she is breaking down these difficult technical issues in a way that we can all understand. Oftentimes when tech executives come here to Capitol Hill, they sound like robots. Facebook has been pushing back in real time, their spokespeople are tweeting right now, pointing out that she didn't work on a certain team that was directly involved in work with children or she didn't do some she wasn't over all of these issues, but in some ways that doesn't really matter. She has the receipt. She has 10s of 1000s of documents.
And also, she is pointing to something that so many Americans, so many people around the world know to be true. They know that they have kids that are addicted to these apps, they know that they have kids and family members and loved ones even themselves who can be pulled down rabbit holes, whether it's about eating disorders, or conspiracy theories case. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Elie, one thing we heard right at the end from Ed Markey is that Congress is going to act with her. Amy Klobuchar says to Frances Haugen, you are the catalyst. What can Congress do?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL AND STATE PROSECUTOR: Yeah, Kate. So, the big-ticket item here is what we've heard referred to as Section 230. What Section 230 is, it's a law passed by Congress back in 1996, that essentially protects social media companies like Facebook from being sued over their content. And there was a really interesting moment where one of the senators asked Ms. Haugen, what would make the biggest damage? What would make Facebook fear the most? And she said, amending Section 230. She didn't say take it away, because there'll be a First Amendment issues there. But she said, make Facebook liable for its algorithms, make them legally responsible for the algorithms. And I think that's a really interesting idea, and something that Congress really needs to take a serious look at doing.
BOLDUAN: Katie, you were in charge of managing elections for Facebook, you've worked with -- I remember when we spoke during a panel, your job was working with politicians all around the world and their engagement with Facebook. What is your reaction to what you heard from Frances Haugen?
KATIE HARBATH, FORMER PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, FACEBOOK: I think Francis is demonstrating and is emblematic of the fact that there are hundreds of really smart individuals that are working on integrity and these problems and thinking about how they affect democracy and our civil discourse.
And while, she did work on only certain parts of some of these issues and as Donie said, she does have all of these documents. I think that this is entering an entirely new phase of this discussion that hopefully is going to be up levelled and really help us to move forward in terms of figuring out what the new societal norms and regulations need to be. BOLDUAN: Trust is earned. And Facebook has not earned our trust. Katie, do you agree with that at this point? I know -- I'm sure you still have a lot of friends who work at Facebook. But when you look at what the monster that seems to have been created, that is only fed by more engagement and more users, do you agree?
HARBATH: I think Facebook has a long way to go to still, to continue to earn trust. I think there's people there that definitely want to continue to do that and try to move that forward.
BOLDUAN: Donie, I think one part of it, and you tell me what sticks out most in what she said, because Frances left a lot for the senators to discuss. And let's be honest, Donie, this is one area of bipartisanship that we never see. They all agree that there's a problem. And they all frankly seem really pissed off from what they've heard from Facebook representatives who have testified before them. When Francis was talking very simply, and clearly about the harm to children in just thinking about bullying, bullying at school. And Frances said, you can get -- you get -- when I was in high school, you get to go home and reset for 16 hours. And she said the bullying now follows them home because of Instagram, into their bedrooms, the last thing they see before they go to bed, is someone being cruel to them. That seems to just -- what do you think about that?
O'SULLIVAN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, Facebook has been through many scandals before about our data, personal data, Cambridge Analytica, Russian trolls, all of that. There's always been a very political element to all of that. We've seen a lot of political grandstanding on both sides, frankly, here in past tech hearings. But this is about children. It's about the most vulnerable people in our society. And you can see senators in the room indicating to one another on both sides that they need to come together on this.
Look, Facebook is going to say and there's a point that, you know, this bullying, cyberbullying is happening on other apps, too, of course, and Facebook will say it's not just all our -- it's not just our problem, but the reality is it's happening on Instagram, it is their problem. So, I mean, I just think it's so compelling to hear as she walks through these issues. And I think for just regular people who use these apps, you know, again, this is unfortunately too relatable, a story for many of us, for many people who have loved ones who have, who have found themselves going down rabbit holes in misinformation, or cyber bullying or harassment online.
BOLDUAN: One thing that, Elie, that is often discussed is look, Congress regulates industries that are dangerous and risky All the time. Tobacco was discussed. The auto industry it was brought up during this. Why is this so hard?
HONIG: Yeah, Senator Blumenthal made just that point. This is different, though, because of the First Amendment. It's one thing to regulate tobacco auto industry, you name it, because there's not first amendment concerns here. Of course, Facebook does have first amendment rights. And one of the really interesting suggestions that the witness made that I think is eminently achievable by Congress is let's focus on transparency, meaning, let's require Facebook to tell us what are they doing with our personal information? Who are they selling it to? Who's behind the ads that they put up that -- where do their algorithms coming from? What's the aim of the algorithms? That kind of legislation, I think, would completely withstand a First Amendment challenge. So that may be an actual constructive way that Congress can make a difference here without violating the First Amendment.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. Making, as she said, making Facebook responsible for the consequences of their intentional decisions, which is not the content maybe that shows up on the site, but the algorithms that push the content to you and make it more viral. This is really, really, really interesting today. Thank you all very much.
We have to turn now to some breaking news, though. There is a security incident outside the U.S. Supreme Court that was taking places just now. We want to make you aware of U.S. Capitol Police say that they have now removed an individual from a suspicious vehicle parked in front of the Supreme Court. We're waiting for a briefing from officials in any minute now.
Let's get over to see and as Whitney Wild. She's on Capitol Hill. She's got the breaking details. Whitney, what do we know?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: OK, this all started around 10 minutes to 10 this morning and Capitol Police tweeting that they were investigating suspicious vehicle outside of the Supreme Court. This only lasted about an hour. At the end of this event, that's when police use what sounded and looked like a flashbang. So, a loud bang and then smoke, perhaps to stun the suspect. And then they made a tactical command and then tactical movement to actually extract that suspect from the vehicle. Capitol Police saying they took him into custody. No one was hurt.
Kate, this is the best-case scenario when you assess a situation like a suspicious vehicle outside of the Supreme Court. Sorry, we have a -- there's a little bit of immediacy from here. So, you might have just seen the camera move into the shot.
Anyway, Kate, this is -- you know, it comes at a time when people here in D.C. have a little bit of frayed nerves and for good reason. We had the Capitol in January. We had a security incident April 2, we had another very similar incident here as a matter of weeks, a couple months ago actually, outside the Supreme Court which lasted much longer where there was a concern that a suspect there had an explosive device in the end. That wasn't the case, but that was the fear for several hours here. Again, this wrapped up within about an hour and we'll get more details from Capitol Police. They have identified the suspect as Dale Paul Melvin, date of birth, 9/4/'66 of Kimball Michigan. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, we're seeing this video for moments ago when he was taken out of the vehicle and taken into custody. All right, many more details to come, as we said, the Capitol Police are going to be holding a briefing for the media in just a second. We're going to bring you updates when we get it, and how serious the situation is. Coming up for us, still crews are racing to clean up a major oil spill in Southern California. The governor has issued a state of emergency now. There are new questions about exactly when officials found out about the leak. Why they weren't alerted to? Why the company didn't act sooner. Details coming up.
BOLDUAN: California Governor Gavin Newsom issuing a state of emergency as a major oil spill threatens the state's Southern coastline, crews racing to contain the mess and this environmental disaster. A new estimate just out of how big the problem is. As much as 144,000 gallons of oil may have leaked into the Pacific Ocean. That's the latest understanding. And now there are new questions about when the leak first started. Why it took so long to respond. CNN's Camila Bernal. She's live in Huntington Beach with more on this. Camila, what are you learning today?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. So, here's the thing, local officials here and residents are really demanding answers. And it's because we reviewed some documents, and they show that there were reports of an oil sheen on Friday night. That's more than 12 hours before the company amplify energy reported the spill. Now they say their workers found out on Saturday morning, and that's when they reported it to the state and federal authorities. They also say that they have devices in place that will tell you if there's a leak, even if you don't see the oil, but they say they didn't get any of these notifications.
And so, people here are upset. They want to know exactly when this happened, how it happened and why amplify energy? They say that it's possible that it was the anchor from one of the ships that are going by that causes but the district attorney in Orange County says that is not enough, they want an explanation because there's still a lot of work to be done here, Kate, and it is not going to be an easy cleanup.
BOLDUAN: Camila, thank you very much for that. Let's get to more of this. Joining me right now is Katrina Foley. She's a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors representing Huntington Beach. Thank you for being here. Just -- let's talk about what Katrina's -- what Katrina is saying. There is a real disconnect and real concern now about when the company knew of a problem, when it was reported and when action was taken. What is your understanding and what are you hearing?
KATRINA FOLEY, MEMBER, ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Well, thank you for having me today. This is a quite devastating situation here in Orange County. It's gone from the Huntington Beach all the way to Dana Point now, so it's really hitting our entire Orange County coast.
And what I'm hearing is that the leak started on Friday, and there was calls from either boaters or the platform workers themselves to let someone know, to come out and check the leak. So, I do think that we need to start investigating when those calls occurred, and who made those calls. And there, I want to point out, so there's very legal terms, very specific legal terms that are being used here that are different for notifying purposes than like you and I might think of notice. I think of notice as they call them, they said there's a leak. The notice requirement under the law is something slightly different and that's what I think the company is hanging their hat on right now. They say they didn't have noticed until Saturday.
BOLDUAN: And Ms. Foley, why is this important? Because obviously, if we're being really honest minutes and hours matter when you've got gallons of oil leaking into the ocean?
FOLEY: 100%, it's important because the leak, continued to pour oil into the ocean, which continue to flow towards Orange County. And what was really critical is that on Saturday, there were hundreds of boaters out on the Huntington Beach coast, because we had the air show going on, there were hundreds of boaters coming back and forth from Catalina to Orange County. So, all of these individuals were impacted. And it also caused us to lose time to be able to put up barriers, to protect our wetlands, and to protect those areas that we've worked so hard to bring back after the last oil spill. So, it's really, really disappointing.
BOLDUAN: And also, on top of this, the exact cause of the leak remains unclear at this moment. How important is getting that answer from your perspective?
FOLEY: Well, I think all of these questions are super important. And we will get the answers. The cause of the leak, as I understand it from the press briefing yesterday, they have maybe identified where on the pipeline, the leak is caused. I'm not buying at this point that it was an anchor from a tanker. There is plenty of GPS systems, but maybe it was, I don't know, that's for the experts and the independent experts to determine. That's something that I think is very important. I know others do as well, that it must be an independent investigation. We can't rely on the company's investigators to tell us what happened because obviously they are biased.
BOLDUAN: Katrina Foley, thank you very much. I know this is devastating, not only for the wildlife, but devastating to the community and the economy, the longer that the beaches are contaminated, and the water isn't safe to go into. So, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it. We'll continue to follow this.
We're also following this from Washington, President Biden just met virtually with a group of House Democrats as he is trying to rally support and push forward his economic agenda on Capitol Hill.
Last night, the President told a group of House progressives that the cost of this massive spending bill needs to come down from where it has been, which is the goal was three and a half trillion dollars. Now it needs to be less than that. Is this the middle ground? CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill.
Manu, you just talked to who, one person who remains a key player in all of this. Senator Joe Manchin, what's he saying about it?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is open to the idea of a $1.9 to $2.2 trillion price tag, which is what Joe Biden did float to a group of House progressives on a conference call last night. This, of course, is down from the $3.5 trillion level that Democrats have pushed forward in the House, but has been resisted by Senator Joe Manchin, along with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, both of whom remain in negotiations with the White House.
Manchin himself has said that $1.5 trillion, that overall expansion of social safety net package is enough. But when I just spoke to him earlier this morning, he made clear he's willing to go up potentially to a new range, the President's floated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, it sounds like you're not ruling out that price?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Well, I'm not ruling anything out. But the bottom line is I want to make sure that we strategically do the right job, and we don't basically add more to the concerns we have right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So that is a big issue, big development, because getting to an agreement on top line number has been one of the major sticking points for among Democrats to get an overall deal here. But there are still a lot of other sticking points that they have to resolve. Yesterday Joe Manchin told me, "red line" for him is the so-called Hyde Amendment which prevents federal money going for abortion services.
Manchin opposes abortion, progressive say they don't want the Hyde Amendment to be part of it. He wants means testing also, on a lot of the new social programs that are part of this bill, that is a key sticking point they're going to have to hash out and coming from a coal producing state. He has resisted calls for aggressive measures on climate change. And that too, has been pushed aggressively by most Democrats on Capitol Hill. So, a lot of major issues to resolve here. But on this issue, the still overall price tag, perhaps they're a little closer, can they get to an agreement, the leaders want to get to it by the end of the month. Manchin says though, it's going to take a little bit more time potentially.
BOLDUAN: The slow charge forward continues and the debt ceiling hanging out there. Thank you so much, Manu, I really, really appreciate it. And thank you all so much for being with us at this hour.
I'm Kate Bolduan. Inside Politics with John King starts right now.