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Whistleblower: Facebook Placing Profit Over Public Good; President to Speak On the Debt Ceiling in Coming Hours; Fumio Kishida Confirmed as Japan's New Prime Minister; Major Oil Spill Threatening Parts of Southern California; U.K. Government Deploys Military to Help Deliver Petrol to Stations. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired October 04, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world, I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is going public in the most public of ways. She is not the first person to blow the whistle from inside Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Billions of human beings can express themselves as they want when they want. I think we do more than anyone else in the industry.


SOARES: Sounding the alarm. A whistleblower says Facebook repeatedly chose its own interests over public safety. What the social media giant is saying about the allegations.

There's oil everywhere. Residents in parts of southern California describe the devastation as the state tries to contain a disastrous oil spill.

And North and South Korea restore their military hotlines in their bid to thaw the country's icy relations. We are live for you in Seoul.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: It is Monday, October 4th. And we begin this hour with Facebook. Facebook over and over again has shown a chooses profit over safety. Not my words but those of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. She's speaking out publicly after damning evidence she uncovered as a former employee of the social media giant. Her interview with "60 Minutes" coming just days before she's set to testify on Capitol Hill about her findings that is happening on Tuesday. CNN's Brian Stelter has more on what Haugen is saying and how Facebook is responding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, yes, this is a big moment for the Facebook and part of the social networking world more broadly as a whistleblower comes forward to call attention to what the algorithms, what these platforms are doing to our brains, to our minds on a daily basis.

This employee's name is Frances Haugen. She's worked at Facebook as a product manager trying to combat misinformation. And she said the longer she spent at the company the more concerned she was about the company's failures. She calls out the algorithm in particular and how it prioritizes profits, Facebook's profits over public safety. Here's a part of what she said on "60 Minutes."

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking up that content today, is it is optimizing for content that gets engagement, a reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it's easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.

SCOTT PELLEY, 60 MINUTES, CBS: Misinformation, angry content is enticing to people --

HAUGEN: Very enticing.

PELLEY: -- and keeps them on the platform?

HAUGEN: Yes. Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money.

STELTER Haugen age 37 years old is soon going to be a household name. She leaked to the "Wall Street Journal" anonymously sharing documents with internal research from Facebook showing how the company is in some cases well aware of the problems its platforms cause. Then she gave that "60 Minutes" interview and on Tuesday she'll be testifying to the United States Senate.

The "60 Minutes" interview is a preview of what she might say. I was struck by a comment you made about Facebook's impact in the United States and around the world.

She said the version of Facebook that exists today, is chairing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.

Facebook of course says no platform is perfect but it tries exceedingly hard to stamp out hate speech and misinformation. It says it has tens of thousands of staffers working to make the platforms healthy and strong. And it says advertisers don't want to be associated with a toxic environment. So, it's in Facebook's interests to clean up the property. But look, time and time again we have seen Facebook fall short of its own expectations, its own goals and Haugen said she had seen so much she had to blow the whistle. Her lawyers have now filed complaints with the FCC trying to get the government involved. Back to you.


SOARES: Thanks very much, Brian Stelter there.

Well, Haugen also says she was recruited by Facebook in 2010 and took the job to work on addressing issues surrounding misinformation on the site. However, she pointed that the 2020 election as a turning point for Facebook and why her feelings about the company started to change. Here's more from the "60 Minutes" interview.



PELLEY (voice-over): At headquarters she was assigned to civic integrity which worked on risks to election including misinformation. But after this past election there was a turning point.

HAUGEN: They told us we're dissolving civic integrity. Like they basically said, oh good, we made it through the election. There wasn't riots. We can get rid of civic integrity now. Fast forward a couple months we got the insurrection. And when they got rid of civic integrity, it was the moment where I was like I don't trust that they're willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.


SOARES: Now Facebook has responded to the "60 Minutes" report. A spokeswoman for the company says -- I'm going to read it out for you.

Every day our teams has to balance protecting the ability of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform safe and positive place. We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.

Well, before the "60 Minutes" interview. Nick Clegg, the top Facebook executive spoke to CNN about his company's handling of hate speech and other negative content. Take a listen.


NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS, FACEBOOK: Of course, we haven't got everything right. There's no such thing as perfection in social media as much as in any other walk of life.

And then what we do is we have to address that and act on it. I think in the past it was true there was more hate speech on Facebook than there should have been. We applied a huge amount of resources.

And by the way let me give you one very simple reason why this is such a misleading analogy. The people who pay our lunch are advertisers. Advertisers don't want their content next to hateful, extreme, or unpleasant content. We have absolutely no commercial incentive, no moral incentive, no company-wide incentive to do anything other than to try and give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible. And that is what we do day in and day out.


Nick Clegg, that Facebook executive noted, businesses don't want their advertisements next to negative content on social media. A number of companies even pulled their ads from Facebook -- if you remember last year -- to protect what they call the sites failures to stop the spread of hate. But Facebook has proven it can still make record profits despite these challenges and here's a reason why.


MIKE ISAAC, TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Last summer there was an advertiser boycott called by some groups that seemed to last about a few weeks but ultimately Facebook ended up posting record profits and making more money than it ever has before. So, it's very difficult to convince Wall Street investors as well as advertisers to change their minds. Especially when Facebook has such a strangle hold on how digital advertising works in the first place.

So, it's really until there's an alternative for them to choose, they are kind of stuck with buying Facebook ads for better or worse.

You know, none of this research would have ever seen the light of day basically unless we had this leaker, whistleblower sort of come through and put it out there. And Facebook will always be the sort of incentive to present their first face to the public and say, here's all the good things that were doing without really wanting us to know the actual costs of the platform in society.


SOARES: Our "New York Times" tech correspondent Mike Isaac their speaking earlier to CNN. We'll stay on top of the story ahead of course of that hearing on Tuesday.

Now U.S. President Joe Biden has a busy week ahead. In the coming hours he'll speak about the need to raise a debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. from defaulting for the first time in history. The Treasury Department is warning it will be unable to pay its bills by around October 18th unless Congress acts to raise or suspend the debt limit. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats will need to do it alone. While Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say it's a bipartisan responsibility. Here's more from the Senate number two Democrat.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Schumer has said to him, you don't want your fingerprints on the debt ceiling, even though you voted for all the spending bills that have created this debt ceiling extension, well, then step out of the way. Let us do it by majority vote, by a Democratic vote. We will accept that responsibility.

The future of our economy is at stake here. And if he thinks he's going to score political points by defaulting on America's debt for the first time in history, Senator McConnell is wrong.


SOARES: Well, there's that, then there's this. Mr. Biden is also getting ready to rally support for his multi-trillion-dollar legislative agenda. CNN's Arlette Saenz has the details for you.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden will hit the road this week to promote his economic agenda which he is still hoping to get across the finish line. The president will travel to Howell, Michigan where he will promote the bipartisan infrastructure proposal and also the more sweeping economic agenda which will expand the social safety net in this country.


Both of those measures currently remain stalled in Congress, as moderates and progressives remain at odds over the two measures, the president is also expected to host the Democrats here at the White House to get those negotiations going again. But there has been frustration voiced by some Democrats in the party, particularly moderates, who are frustrated that that bipartisan infrastructure Bill did not get a vote last week. But the White House says that there needs to be some give and take in the negotiations, take a listen.

CEDRIC RICHMOND, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: People will be disappointed. People will not get everything they want, that is the art of legislating. But the goal here is to get both bills and we're going to fight until we get both bills. And that's the statement from the president. Human infrastructure is important, and physical infrastructure is important, so we're going to do both.

SAENZ: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set an end of month deadline to get that bipartisan infrastructure bill passed but the White House so far has resisted putting a time line for when they want to see these two measures passed, instead the president saying he is going to work like hell to ensure that they do but acknowledging that it could take a bit more time.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


SOARES: Well, meantime, progressives have been taking to the airways to speak about their priorities and where they draw the line on compromising with the moderates in their own party, take a listen to this.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): There's no number on the table yet, but as everyone has agreed to, it is not like --

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: But would have come to us and said --

JAYAPAL: I don't feel the need to give a number, because I gave my number, it was 3.5, so if you're in a negotiation, you need to have a counter offer before you bit bid against yourself.

BASH: So, if we're in the looking at numbers, what about 1.5? Like what Senator Manchin --

JAYAPAL: Well, that's not going to happen --

BASH: But why is that --

JAYAPAL: So, it's going to be somewhere --

BASH: Why won't it add up to that number?

JAYAPAL: Because that's too small to get our priorities in. So, it's going to be somewhere, you know, between 1.5 and 3.5.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): But what the president also said and what all of us are saying, is that maybe the time is now for us to stand up to powerful special interests who are currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to prevent us from doing what the American people want.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): And the reason why we are having this discussion right now is because we don't want to leave communities behind, and all too often, DC politics, you know, when we have to make a compromise, the folks that get compromised are lower income working class families. It's health care. It's relief. It's communities of color, and we want to make sure that we're fighting for all of us, not just some of us.


SOARES: Now, the U.S. Supreme Court starts a new term in the coming hours, all of the justices are expected to be on the bench except for Brett Kavanaugh who tested positive for COVID-19. The court faces politically polarizing sessions with cases on the docket involving gun rights, school vouchers, the death penalty and state secrets. Along with a direct college to Roe v. Wade, the decision of course legalizing abortion in the United States.

Now, Japan has a new Prime Minister, after a special session of Parliament ended just a few hours ago.

64-year-old Fumio Kishida is a former top diplomat. He takes the reins of the world's third largest economy while navigating the coronavirus pandemic and leading challenges like North Korea and increasingly assertive China.

Let's get more on this. Selina Wang joins us now live from Tokyo. And Selina, when you and I were talking last week, you are saying look, he's not the people's favorite but he is the party's favorite. So, what can we expect from him in terms of leadership-wise?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, that's exactly right. And we are seeing it play out as we expected that he's the sort of status quo pick. He has just announced his cabinet and it's stacked with many of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's allies. Now he campaigned on narrowing this income gap and spending billions

of dollars to help boost the Japanese economy that's been hard hit by the pandemic. And on the domestic front a key priority is going to be keeping COVID-19 cases low. Japan has suffered through multiple bouts, multiple surges of COVID-19 infections and is only now finally releasing that state of the emergency restrictions and slowly coming out of the worst of the pandemic.

Now on foreign policy he faces growing risks from North Korea and China. He's expected to continue his predecessors' policies of supporting a strong U.S./Japan alliance and working with allies as a bulwark against China. And business leaders here -- I've been talking to business leaders and they're going to be closely watching how Kishida navigates and balances the deep economic times that Japan has with China, as well as his concerns around Beijing's increasing military assertiveness. I spoke to the CEO of Suntory, who was an economic adviser to outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and this is what he had to say about Kishida.


TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: There are so many complicated issues, and that he's not the weak of strongest leader in the ruling party of LDP.


So, I'm still concerned about the revolving Prime Minister system.


WANG (on camera): That big question, Isa, here in Japan is just how long Kishida can hold on to the leadership for, prior to the leadership of Shinzo Abe, who was Japan's longest serving Prime Minister. Japan turned through six Prime Ministers in six years and Kishida's first major test will be Japan's upcoming general election. He is going to be the face of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that has been hard-hit because of outgoing Yoshida Suga's policies around COVID and pushing ahead with the Olympics -- Isa.

SOARES: Selina Wang for us in Tokyo. Thanks very much, Selina.

Now, Newport Beach in California is telling people to avoid contact with ocean water and areas along the beach after a major oil spill. Thousands and thousands of crude have poured into the Pacific after a leak in a pipeline discovered on Saturday, and residents say it is already having an impact.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the slick collecting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The smell is pretty strong. Yes, and we can even smell it out in the parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the beach here is contaminated with oil tar, nobody is out here cleaning it up. The oil company is going to turn this place into a big industrial armpit, and it's not fair to our environment.


SOARES: Divers have been inspecting a stretcher pipeline spanning 17 miles. It's about 27 kilometers, hoping to find the exact source of the spill. Officials now say the leak appears to have stopped but the threat to areas near Los Angeles isn't over. Here's what the mayor of Huntington Beach said on Sunday.


KIM CARR, MAYOR, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA: In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades. Rested assured that the team in Huntington Beach mobilized quickly and we are proactively responding. We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors, and our natural habitats.


SOARES: Let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, good to see you. Give our viewers a sense really of how far this spill has spread and of course the dangers here.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the dangers remain rather high here, Isa. Great seeing you. And you know, when you look at the area of coverage, what has played out here in the last couple of days and of course just the beginning of what has happened here. If you take a look at the scenes across Newport Beach, the stunning landscape typically is in southern California, now covered in tar.

And we know reserves here, ecological reserves that have been protected for many, many years, about 25 acres worth, have already taken on some tar, 8,300 acres or about 3,300 or so hectares of water that has the sheen, and kind of the oil spill encompassing it, that larger than the city of Santa Monica.

The area of coverage we're dealing with here across the coast, and if you take a look at the images again coming out of the region, we know the 130,000 gallons that have spilled, about 3,000 gallons have been recovered so far, so well over 95 percent of it still remains in place. But going in for a closer look, about nine miles, 15 kilometers offshore from the Southern California coastline is where you'll find this particular rig, the name is Elly, and there are multiple rigs out there about nine miles offshore. They all start with the letter "E" in their names. I want to kind of show you the polygon here just offshore that highlights these four rigs. And the second one that sits offshore there, that's Elly and that's where we think the leak has originated from.

And see this redline? That is actually the pipeline that stretches about 17 miles or 27 kilometers, arrives somewhere near portions of Long Beach, California. And again, it's on this particular pipeline where the leak is in place. They've stopped that leak right now, but we know this particular setup, it is post-production oil. This is not like the 2010 leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP oil, that particular one was crude oil, it was raw crude, so it was far more dense. This particular one is a little less dense, certainly can spread a lot more rapidly.

And so, it is really important to note with the biodiversity and the landscape, the marine landscape across this region, studies have shown this region of Southern California is home to the most productive fish habitat anywhere in the world, 27 times more production per square meter there for fish than any place in the world with similar depth in the observe ocean. So, an incredible amount of wildlife and fish life in particular across this region are going to be impacted by this as well -- Isa.

SOARES: Pedram, do we know how long it takes to clean this -- the cleanup effort?

JAVAHERI: You know, so they have put a boom, essentially is picking up what's out there and right now we've gotten -- we've reclaimed about 3,000 gallons of the 130,000.


This is been about 12 to 18 hours' worth of work, so oftentimes it can take weeks or months. And at this point, again, stopping that at the source is going to help the situation, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes at least much of the month of October before everything is picked up.

SOARES: Wow, staggering. Pedram, do keep us posted on that. Thanks very much, great to see you, Pedram.

Coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, it looks like the U.S. is turning a corner on COVID, that's great news. But experts say it does not mean we're out of woods. We have the details ahead just for you.

Plus, the military is getting behind the wheel to help address the fuel crisis in the U.K., but if there's a shortage of truck drivers, could this happen again? We'll have a live report next.


SOARES: Now, starting today, the U.K. is deploying the military to help deliver fuel to petrol stations. About 200 tanker personnel, half of whom are drivers are hitting the road. It's part of the government's efforts to stabilize the nation's fuel supplies. A shortage of truck drivers and result in consumer buying -- we showed you here on the show -- and it has led to panic buying and long lines and empty pumps over the last week. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. is going through post-Brexit growing pains. Take a listen.


[04:25:00] BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: When you look at the particular issue on the, for petrol fill courts, there you've got a problem that's actually now is very largely driven by demand and I understand people's frustrations.


SOARES: Let's hear more on this. CNN's Nina dos Santos Joins Me Now. Nina, give me a sense of what you're seeing? And you have you already seen any of military deployed where you are? And has the situation improved at all?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, I'm in central London so it's unlikely we're going to be seeing the military deployed to parts like this, fuel fill courts like this one, which is one of the main motorways heading towards Heathrow Airport. And this is an idea of the supply crunch that Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister was referring to.

As you can see people are lining up for hours, since they found out that this fuel port has now got a delivery of petrol. But more broadly speaking, this fuel crisis, the government has acknowledged could intermittently continue to be an issue, heading towards the end of the year. That is a real concern for many people who are trying to rebuild their businesses and rebuild their lives. As well as going back and forth to the office after working from home for so long, over the last 18 to 20 months since the pandemic took hold. And of course, there was success in the lockdowns.

And this is also being viewed as an opportunity though, as you just heard there in that soundbite of the Prime Minister, to relitigate that contentious issue of Brexit. Because the real reason why there isn't enough petrol is because there aren't enough delivery drivers to bring it to fill courts like this because many of them have gone back to EU countries because of COVID-19 and haven't been able to come back because of post-Brexit immigration rules.

And this is what Boris Johnson had to say about how people basically had to wake up to the U.K. who is trying to re-jig its labor marks and these are the growing pains that will come from that.


JOHNSON: When people voted for change in 2016, and when people voted for change again in 2019, as they did. They voted for the end of a broken model of the U.K. economy that relied on low wages and low skill and chronic low productivity. And we're moving away from that.


DOS SANTOS (on camera): So, what is the government moving to? Well, when it comes to easing the supply crunch, in fuel, in food and various other goods that need to be got from one part of the country to the next, they're going to be setting up boot camps to train up thousands of truck drivers and also try and advocate for higher salaries in some of these types of jobs where there is that productivity crunch and also, that labor supply crunch. Remember, Isa, the U.K. has a record vacancy of one million jobs at the moment and that furlough scheme, subsidizing people's wages through the pandemic is also coming to an end. Lots of concerns on the job front but also lots of opportunities -- Boris Johnson's point is this week.

SOARES: Important context from Nina dos Santos. I spent my weekend, Nina, lining up also getting fuel and I'm not in London. But it's real. It's still happening. Thanks very much, Nina.

Now, top health experts are warning Americans not to let their guard down when it comes to COVID. It comes as new cases and hospitalizations are on the decline nationwide, as you can see there, but experts say that trend might not last if Americans get too complacent. Already the toll the virus is taking in the U.S. is staggering. On Friday, the country topped 700,000 COVID deaths. And Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN many of those could have been prevented.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Many of those deaths were unavoidable but many, many are avoidable, were avoidable and will in the future be avoidable. The number itself is staggering. You're absolutely correct. But hopefully that will then spur us to realize that we do have interventions in the form of a vaccine to prevent infection, to prevent severe disease, to prevent death.


SOARES: New York City seems to be heeding his advice, starting today public-school employees who have not been vaccinated won't be allowed back in the door. Instead, they're facing months of unpaid leave. The policy facing some legal challenge, but last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to block it from taking effect.

JetBlue Airways is one of the latest major U.S. companies requiring its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision allows the Biden administration's requirements for federal contractors to be vaccinated. It is unclear when JetBlue's mandate will take effect. Two other carriers, American and Alaska Airlines recently announced similar rules.

Now, still to come right here on CNN, North Korea has its first phone call with South Korea, in months. But the southern reconnection has strings attached. We're live for you in Seoul with the very latest.

Plus, the U.S. is weighing in on the widening tensions between Beijing and Taiwan. We'll go live to Taipei with the latest on those incursions by warplanes from the mainland.