Revelations by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen highlight the critical role that insiders play in exposing corporate wrongdoing. Without Haugen’s bravery and persistence, the extent of Facebook’s knowing disregard for the harm it is causing—to individual users and society as a whole—would have remained a secret. By blowing the whistle, Haugen created an opportunity to do something about it. This has already had a profound impact, engaging lawmakers across the political spectrum here in the United States and other leaders across the globe. Her reporting also gives our society an opportunity to figure out how to correct some of the harms she says Facebook ignored and perpetuated in its pursuit of greater profits.
Companies work hard to keep their misdeeds secret, hiding behind non-disclosure agreements, claiming trade secrets, and dangling severance packages to keep former employees quiet. Whistleblowers are frequently blacklisted too, preventing them from finding work in the future. It takes courage, persistence, and dedication to the truth to blow the whistle like Haugen did.
This is a story that plays out across all industries. Profit-seeking at the expense of the public good is commonplace. Outright fraud is widespread too. Government agencies estimate losses from improper payments, including fraud, exceeding $200 billion just in fiscal year 2020. Many of these improper payments are made by Government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. For example, in 2020 alone, the Government Accountability Office estimates that Medicare made $43 billion in improper payments.
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