Facebook Senate hearing: Live updates on Frances Haugen’s testimony

Facebook is extraordinarily profitable, so it is intriguing to hear Frances Haugen repeatedly refer to the company as “understaffed.” She said this staffing shortage contributes to a vicious cycle of platform-wide problems.

“Facebook has struggled for a long time to recruit and retain the number of employees it needs to tackle the large scope of projects that it has chosen to take on,” Haugen said, emphasizing the word “chosen.”

“Facebook is stuck in a cycle where it struggles to hire; that causes it to understaff projects; which causes scandals; which then makes it harder to hire,” she said.

In a later exchange, Haugen described the following “pattern of behavior:” Often, she said, “problems were so understaffed that there was kind of an implicit discouragement from having better detection systems.” For example, “my last team at Facebook was on the counterespionage team within the threat intelligence org, and at any given time, our team could only handle a third of the cases that we knew about. We knew that if we built even a basic detecter, we would likely have many more cases.”

It’s a twist on the adage about being “too big to fail.” Longtime tech reporter Craig Silverman observed that Haugen was calling Facebook “too big to staff.”

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