Frances Haugen, Facebook whistleblower, and Peter Greste, award-winning journalist and press freedom advocate, will address the National Press Club of Australia on ‘Protecting Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in the Digital Era’
Whistleblowers and journalists together play a vital role in ensuring accountability and transparency. But in Australia and around the world, whistleblowing and press freedom have been under attack. Over the past decade, national security, secrecy and surveillance laws have been enacted without adequate protections for journalists and whistleblowers. In 2019, the ABC and journalist Annika Smethurst were raided by police, while several whistleblowers have recently faced prosecution – with war crimes whistleblower David McBride on trial next month. Although the Albanese Government has taken important steps towards better protection for truth and transparency in Australia, much work remains to be done.
At a time of climate change, widening social inequality and corporations wielding unprecedented power, whistleblowing and public interest journalism have never been more important. Frances Haugen, a former product manager who blew the whistle on the dangers of social media while working at Facebook (now Meta), and Peter Greste, Executive Director of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom, will address the National Press Club on the importance of whistleblowing and press freedom, informed by their own unique perspectives.
Frances Haugen – Facebook Whistleblower
Frances Haugen is an advocate for accountability and transparency in social media. Frances holds a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Olin College and a MBA from Harvard University. She is a specialist in algorithmic product management, having worked on ranking algorithms at Google, Pinterest, Yelp and Facebook. In 2019, she was recruited to Facebook to be the lead Product Manager on the Civic Misinformation team, which dealt with issues related to democracy and misinformation, and later also worked on counter-espionage.
During her time at Facebook, Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes prioritizing their own profits over public safety and putting people’s lives at risk. As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Facebook. The initial reporting was done by the Wall Street Journal in what became known as “The Facebook Files”. Since going public, Frances has testified in front of the US Congress, UK and EU Parliaments, the French Senate and National Assembly, and has engaged with lawmakers internationally on how to best address the negative externalities of social media platforms.
Professor Peter Greste – Executive Director, Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom
Professor Peter Greste is an award-winning journalist, author and academic who spent fifteen years with the BBC before he joined Al Jazeera as East Africa correspondent. In 2013, he went to Egypt to help cover the unfolding political crisis but two weeks into the assignment, security agents raided his hotel room and arrested him and two colleagues. They were charged with terrorism offences, and in the subsequent trial they became champions of press freedom. All three were eventually convicted and sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison, before being released under intense international pressure. Peter saw his trial and conviction as an extreme example of the way journalism was being attacked in the War on Terror globally, and wrote about his experience in The First Casualty.
In honour of his campaigning, Peter has been given numerous awards including a Walkley (2014); the British Royal Television Society’s Judges Award (2015); the Australian Human Rights Council Medal (2016); the RSL’s ANZAC Peace Prize (2016); and the Australian Press Council’s Press Freedom Medal (2018). He is the executive director of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom.
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