Facebook Inc. whistleblower Frances Haugen has radically different advice for her former employer and its rebranding strategy.
Rather than cast itself as Meta and pursue leadership in futuristic metaverse technology, as the company announced last week, the beleaguered social networking company FB, +1.98% would be better served if it acknowledged its repeated mistakes and company co-founder Mark Zuckerberg relinquished his chief executive title, Haugen said.
“There is a Meta problem at Facebook. Over and over again, it chooses to expand rather than stick the landing,” Haugen said in an interview before the opening of the Web Summit conference in Lisbon on Monday, her first on a public stage.
“It is unconscionable,” she said. “I can’t imagine how this [rebranding] makes sense.”
It will take several highly unlikely scenarios, she said, for Facebook to reverse a course of corporate behavior that prompted Haugen to leak thousands of pages of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal that led to a Senate subcommittee probe and renewed congressional vows to legislate social-media companies.
“I am a big proponent of corporate governance, but he [Zuckerberg] has control of the stock. It is unlikely the company will change if he remains CEO,” she said. “Perhaps it’s time for someone else to take the reins.”
“I have faith Facebook can change and he has a beautiful vision for the company, but it is unacceptable for [Zuckerberg] to continue to make the same bad mistakes,” Haugen said at the large tech gathering, held in-person for the first time since 2019. The show is expected to draw 40,000 people this week.
Haugen added that Facebook has chosen to frame a worldwide debate over how it handles data and content as a stark choice between “censorship and free speech.”
Haugen and several other speakers helped open Web Summit, whose main themes this year are climate change and crypto, Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave told MarketWatch.
“People were hungry to get out and go to a conference,” he said, before revealing that Web Summit is partnering with mega-conference CES and providing it software.