Top House antitrust lawmakers reportedly held meeting with Facebook whistleblower

Ailan Evans, DCNF

Top lawmakers in the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee met with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the subcommittee, and Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who serves as ranking member, held a meeting with Haugen to discuss Facebook and issues related to social media competition, Politico first reported, citing two sources. A person familiar with the matter confirmed the meeting to the DCNF, and said the lawmakers also discussed potential antitrust reforms, as well as matters related to privacy and social media algorithms.

Buck and Cicilline worked together to advance a series of antitrust bills targeting major tech companies out of the House Judiciary Committee in June, and have both advocated for breaking up Facebook and other large platforms. The antitrust bills are currently set to reach the House floor in November.

Haugen in her testimony before the Senate earlier in October opposed lawmakers’ suggestions that the harms of Facebook and other social media companies could be addressed through antitrust reform, instead arguing for more federal oversight of social media platforms and reform of engagement-based ranking algorithms.

In an early October interview with the DCNF, Buck said the fundamental problems of social media platforms, including those outlined by Haugen, could best be solved through improving competition in the marketplace, and pushed back on increased federal intervention in online speech.

“If we have five Facebooks we’ll address the speech issue better than having some government censor decide what is appropriate or dangerous,” Buck said.

Haugen has called for a dedicated federal body to oversee major tech companies, arguing that the lack of oversight has exacerbated social media’s ills.

“[T]here needs to be a dedicated oversight body because right now the only people in the world who are trained to analyze these experiments to understand what’s happening inside of Facebook are people who grew up inside [social media platforms],” Haugen said during her testimony.

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