How a LinkedIn message cleared the path for ‘The Facebook Files’

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Wall Street Journal reporter Jeff Horwitz first attached with Frances Haugen, now referred to as the Facebook whistleblower, past due closing 12 months. He was once seeking to meet extra resources at Facebook to be informed about how the corporate controlled content material on its platforms across the 2020 election.
He attempted “the old LinkedIn spamming approach to source building,” he referred to as it in an interview in this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast.

That’s when newshounds use the pro social community to message dozens of staff within the hopes of listening to again from one or two. I “did not hear back from anyone for a month,” Horwitz mentioned.

But then, in December 2020, Facebook dissolved its civic integrity crew, which have been charged with thorny problems about election interference and general protection across the election.

“The day that I first heard from Frances was the day that the civic team got disbanded,” Horwitz mentioned.

Listen to the entire podcast right here:

He ultimately earned Haugen’s agree with – and get right of entry to to a trove of inside analysis from the corporate. But “the first thing that happened was, she vetted the hell out of me,” he mentioned. It was once transparent that she was once occupied with talking out, however “I had no idea at the time that she was going to do something this substantial and this methodical.”

Horwitz mentioned he discovered that Haugen was once deeply afflicted by way of Facebook’s affects around the globe. She raised this level in her Congressional testimony on October 5: “My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning,” she mentioned. “What we saw in Myanmar and now in Ethiopia are the opening chapters of a story so terrifying no one wants to read the end of it.”

But in her preliminary conversations with the Journal reporter, she wasn’t anticipating to talk on Capitol Hill and grow to be a well-recognized face to tens of millions of other people.

Following the discussion on LinkedIn, the reporter and the supply met in particular person and went for a “walk in the woods” within the hills close to Oakland, California. Haugen attempted to determine his motivations and vice versa. And she recommended a pseudonym, “Sean,” as a tribute to a just lately deceased good friend.

Horwitz started to inform his editors about what “Sean” was once sharing with him. And the Facebook Files collection was once born.

Looking again now, Horwitz says, Facebook Files was once “the most important thing I’ve ever worked on.” And it isn’t over but — he says he may simply write many 1000’s extra phrases presently. He showed that there are extra tales within the works.

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