Unfriended: Frances Haugen On Her Facebook Testimony And What Comes Next

At 5 feet 10 inches, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a heart-shaped, strong-jawed face, Haugen looks a little like Reese Witherspoons much taller cousin– and theres a hint of Tracy Flick in her polished delivery. She has a TED Talk– ish method of presenting explanatory examples by informing you shes going to use an example, and still remembers precisely where she got into college (MIT and Caltech, though she wound up going to the freshly formed Olin College) and where she didnt (Yale– she was wait-listed, and still is sorry for indicating government for her major rather than engineering).
However its clear that she thinks of herself as a humanist, instead of merely an engineer. She misses San Franciscos participatory art scene, a cousin to the Burning Man scene, and stays annoyed that some on the left have painted her as a techno-optimist. “I dont think the solution is innovation,” she states. “Part of what we require is to have people see each other, with empathy and compassion.”
“Can you envision having your entire adult identity wrapped up in something? Can you envision how tough it would be to admit that it has injured individuals?”
Our next course has arrived– wild rabbit and gluten-free gnocchi for Haugen. “Oh, beautiful,” she states. She enjoys to prepare, in part due to the fact that it helps her manage her celiac disease, which she was identified with in her mid-20s while she was at Google. That was a difficult period in her life: She describes a serious autoimmune response, inexplicable weight-loss and gain, perplexing neuropathic pain, and a see to the hospital for symptoms of poor nutrition. Her work weakened, and she stated Google placed her on a performance-improvement plan, which she feared was a corporate slide path toward being displaced. “I ought to have gone on medical leave, however I was young, and I felt ashamed that I was ill. Because in our culture, we pity people for that, right?” She was likewise wed at the time– to an associate at Google– and was going through a separation. “I lost a couple of years when I resembled, I dont know …” she tracks off. “I was alive. I was successful. I succeeded in not dying.”
Haugen has a boyfriend she met on the island– they were roomies, she states– and the 2 treat food as an arranging principle in their lives. Shes gluten- and dairy-free; hes keto. They satisfied through the cryptocurrency neighborhood, and his support has actually been vital for her. When all the attention began, she texted him. “I resembled, Hey, so I want to give you an out. We havent been dating that long. At any point, if it gets to be too much, you can tap out. Like, I commemorate your joy, right?” He didnt tap out. Hes invested his share of time in the weirder parts of the web, and wasnt daunted. She describes him as lively. “I feel like thats part of the fun of the crypto world,” she states. “These are people who are in various boxes,” people whove found success without Harvard MBAs or corporate jobs.
As we talk, Haugen keeps extreme eye contact, like a Dale Carnegie technique, and when we bid farewell, she shakes my hand in an old-fashioned business person manner thats somehow out of step with her generation of wavers and huggers. Im reminded of how clear she was throughout her congressional statement, exuding the type of sensible small amounts both celebrations appeared able to get behind. Its not difficult to think of a political future for Haugen, who says shes mostly voted Democratic, though she describes herself as an “Eisenhower Republican,” and rhapsodizes about how he integrated the military. She says that a conventional political profession is off the table for her, in large part because of how much effort she puts in managing her celiac. The touring will be difficult enough on that front.
She likewise dreams about an open-source social network for students of all ages to learn and experiment on– think of it as a lab for aspiring software engineers. In the meantime, Haugen is focused on getting the raw material of the files in front of as lots of people as possible and is worried about what to pack for the chilly European leg of her trip.
Haugen keeps faith in the power to enact change even while it stays to be seen whether any significant legislation will come out of her testimony. Whatever policy solutions do come may not work, Haugen acknowledges.

Haugen has a boyfriend she fulfilled on the island– they were roommates, she says– and the 2 reward food as an organizing principle in their lives. As we talk, Haugen maintains intense eye contact, like a Dale Carnegie technique, and when we state farewell, she shakes my hand in an old-fashioned business person way thats somehow out of action with her generation of wavers and huggers. Its not difficult to picture a political future for Haugen, who says shes mostly voted Democratic, though she explains herself as an “Eisenhower Republican,” and rhapsodizes about how he incorporated the military. In the meantime, Haugen is focused on getting the raw product of the documents in front of as many people as possible and is fretted about what to pack for the chilly European leg of her tour. Haugen keeps faith in the power to enact change even while it remains to be seen whether any meaningful legislation will come out of her statement.

Meanwhile Haugen is all right with being the face of all of this. “I am a non-noble Cincinnatus,” she states, describing the Roman hero who declined power and returned to his farm once the battle was won. “If a new social motion is needed in order to make change, I will leave the beach, go do that, and I will go back to the beach as quickly as it is done.”.