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Former Tesla worker speaks out after winning $137 million lawsuit

Former Tesla worker speaks out after winning $137 million lawsuit

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(NEW YORK) -- Owen Diaz, the former Tesla employee who sued the electric car company over allegations of racism, is opening up about his experience.

“[Tesla] decided not to follow through, they decided to kill investigations,” Diaz said on "Good Morning America" Wednesday. “Tesla, as a company, as a whole, needs to wake up. You know you can't keep treating workers like this.”

Diaz was hired as a contract elevator operator at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. He worked there from June 2015 to July 2016. Diaz claimed fellow workers called him the "n-word,” was told to "go back to Africa” and saw racist and derogatory images in the factory's bathroom stalls.

Diaz said he complained to Tesla about his treatment but his supervisors failed to stop the abuse. He left the company four years ago, filing a lawsuit in October 2017 that claimed "Tesla's progressive image was a facade papering over its regressive, demeaning treatment of African-American employees."

Now, after receiving one of the largest awards in a racial harassment case in the history of the United States, Diaz said he feels justice was served. A San Francisco federal jury awarded him $137 million on Monday.

“It’s God’s justice that this happened, you know, and allowed me to talk for people who can't talk for themselves. A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck to paycheck. They have to take choose to either take the abuse that these billion-dollar companies are putting out or feed their families,” Diaz said.

Mr. Diaz’s attorney, Lawrence Organ of the California Civil Rights Law Group, spoke to "Good Morning America" as well and said the verdict "makes Tesla take notice of these horrid conditions, and hopefully it will make them change and make other companies change and realize, racist conduct has no place in the workplace."

In an internal email to employees, Valerie Capers Workman, Tesla's vice president of people, said Tesla of 2015 and 2016 "is not the same as the Tesla of today." Tesla published Workman's email in a blog post on its website following the verdict.

"While we strongly believe that these facts don't justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016, we were not perfect. We're still not perfect. But we have come a long way from 5 years ago," Workman said in her email.

Tesla had responded to Diaz's complaints of harassment by firing two contractors and suspending a third contractor, according to Workman.

This is not the first time Tesla faced claims of a hostile, racist work environment. The company had to contend in court with similar lawsuits, including a class-action civil rights lawsuit filed in 2017 in Alameda County Superior Court. That case is still pending.

In August, a court ruled that Tesla must pay a million-dollar fine in the case of Melvin Berry, a former black employee, who was allegedly subjected for years to racial insults from his colleagues. Tesla has denied all claims.

Tesla employees are bound by mandatory arbitration contracts when they start their jobs, preventing them from suing the company. Diaz was a contract worker.

Diaz said he knows that his case is “bigger than him.”

"This is not really about me. This is about a verdict that a jury made to let Tesla know that they're being put on notice to clean up their factories," he said.

 

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Retailers announce early holiday deals; how to avoid shopping delays, product shortages

Retailers announce early holiday deals; how to avoid shopping delays, product shortages

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(NEW YORK) -- Holiday shopping season has kicked off earlier than ever.

Amazon announced Monday it is offering "Black Friday-worthy deals" and early access to deep discounts across every category.

Target launched its own "Deal Days" promotion from Oct. 10 - 12 that boasts savings on thousands of items online, through their app and in nearly 2,000 stores. The major retailer also launched a holiday price match guarantee, according to its website.

Jennifer Smith, a logistics and supply chain reporter for the Wall Street Journal said retailers are in a unique position this holiday shopping season.

"They're balancing, on the one hand, the need to make sure they have items in stock when people do start shopping with wanting to make sure that they have plenty of time to get them because it could take a little bit longer, particularly for e-commerce, for things to arrive at your home," she told Good Morning America.

October typically marks the busiest shopping month of the year as retailers stock up for Black Friday, but with just three months ahead of Christmas, the supply chain in the U.S. has faced massive pandemic-related shipping issues, shortages and delays.

Microsoft reported issues getting parts needed to build its new Xbox consoles.

"There are multiple kind of pinch points in that process. And I think regretfully it's going to be with us for months and months, definitely through the end of this calendar year," XBOX's head of gaming Phil Spencer said in a statement.

Nike has felt the recent supply crunch and as first reported by NBC, is working to shift footwear production out of Vietnam where factories remain closed due to COVID restrictions to places like China and Indonesia in an attempt to prevent further delays.

Fast fashion clothing companies like H&M and BooHoo said their profits are likely to suffer because of rising supply chain costs and bottlenecks in major ports coast to coast.

Other retailers have attempted to alleviate product shortages by flying in goods by air freight, while Target, Walmart and Home Depot have chartered their own ships to avoid backlogged ports and to make sure they're stocked for holidays.

The CEO of MGA Entertainment Inc., one of the world's largest toymakers, said supply issues are the worst he's seen in over 40 years.

"You have the jams you have all the backlog, logistic problems and inflation, they're all gathered up," Isaac Larian told GMA. "So it's going to be a tough couple of years, in my opinion."

Like many other experts have urged, Larian added, "my kind of advice is -- please shop early."

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Facebook outage highlights risks of overdependence on single tech giant

Facebook outage highlights risks of overdependence on single tech giant

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(NEW YORK) -- On Monday, the crash of Facebook and the company's apps threw the Internet into disarray and plunged billions of users into digital darkness. The outage illustrated how essential Facebook's services have become as well as the risks of its dominance, particularly in developing countries.

Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday the crash was caused by an error during routine maintenance, which took down global data servers.

During the outage, Facebook's website and app were inaccessible, as were WhatsApp and Instagram, two of the company's most popular acquisitions.

While the outage was relatively brief -- around six hours -- some researchers said it points to the downsides of a growing reliance on a single company's services.

"I think it speaks to the vulnerability of our dependence on these platforms," said Philip Roessler, a professor at William & Mary, at which he co-directs the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab.

Roessler said that in countries where he does his research -- places like Kenya and Malawi -- WhatsApp is an essential part of the communications infrastructure, especially as mobile customers take advantage of WhatsApp-dedicated bundles that are much cheaper than standard mobile data.

"It's become this kind of backbone of these emerging economies," he said, highlighting how businesses use WhatsApp to communicate with customers and suppliers alike, while workers use it to find jobs.

WhatsApp is also valuable in places without universal literacy, Roessler said, because the platform allows users to send voice-based messages.

In Brazil, local broadcaster Globo reported that the outage temporarily crippled some small businesses, rendering them unable to fill orders.

The implications of a growing dependence on Facebook's services go beyond the economic, according to Ryan Shandler, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford who highlighted the role played by social media platforms in aiding free speech and assembly.

"People have become dependent on this platform to realize basic civil and human rights," he said.

In 2014, Facebook paid $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp. The messaging app's rise to prominence, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jon Callas, was due in part to cost. The data required to use the service, Callas said, could be cheaper than a traditional text message, also known as SMS.

"It was fantastically cheap and it was certainly as good as SMS, so lots and lots of people started using it as a replacement for that," Callas said.

According to data from the digital analytics company Similarweb, Whatsapp is the most popular mobile messaging app in several of the world's most populous countries, including India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

In July, Facebook said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its apps had around 3.51 billion users.

While the crash sparked a range of humorous responses -- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey joked on his own platform about buying Facebook.com, which was erroneously listed as for sale during the outage -- its consequences could have been more serious, said Roessler, adding: "If it had lasted much longer, you know, the effects would have been quite deep and severe."

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Volvo recalling over 400,000 cars due to air bag defect that left 1 dead

Volvo recalling over 400,000 cars due to air bag defect that left 1 dead

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(NEW YORK) -- Volvo is recalling over 460,000 cars due to an air bag defect that could result in passenger injury.

The recall affects older sedans, including 2001-2009 S60s and 2001-2006 S80s.

According to documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the driver's air bag inflator "may explode during deployment," which could result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants. There has been at least one death due to the defect, according to the documents.

"Our investigations have identified an issue where driver airbag inflators may under certain circumstances be subjected to excessive pressures during deployment potentially resulting in an inflator rupture," a Volvo spokesperson said. "The excessive pressure can occur if the inflator has been subjected to elevated levels of moisture and high inflator temperatures frequently during its lifetime."

To remedy the issue, Volvo will contact owners of cars subject to the recall. Dealerships will replace the driver's air bag for free.

 

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Whistleblower Frances Haugen calls Facebook danger to children and democracy

Whistleblower Frances Haugen calls Facebook danger to children and democracy

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(WASHINGTON) -- A Senate subcommittee on Tuesday is hearing from a whistleblower who claims Facebook manipulated content it knew was harmful to young users, a day after the social media giant experienced an apparently unrelated massive outage.

Frances Haugen, who revealed her identity during a Sunday interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, has been cooperating with a Senate Commerce subcommittee as part of its ongoing efforts to assess potential regulations for the platform. Haugen is expected to tell lawmakers on Tuesday about evidence she reportedly has showing that the company intentionally ignored proof of its potentially harmful impact on users.

"Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money," she told 60 Minutes.

Facebook has publicly refuted Haugen's claims.

Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:

Oct 05, 5:10 pm
Key takeaways from Senate testimony

Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, hailed by bipartisan lawmakers, alleged on Tuesday blatant disregard from Facebook executives when they learned their platforms could have harmful effects on foreign democracies and the mental health of children.

"Facebook has not earned our blind faith," Haugen said in her opening statement before lawmakers. "There is a pattern of behavior that I saw [at] Facebook: Facebook choosing to prioritize its profits over people."

"You can declare moral bankruptcy, and we can figure out a fix [to] these things together, because we solve problems together," she said later on.

Although senators from both parties appeared to support her calls to regulate Facebook, how and when that might happen was unclear.

Minutes after her testimony, Facebook issued a statement attempting to discredit Haugen, stating that she worked for the company "for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives -- and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question."

Click here for some key takeaways from Tuesday's hearing.

-ABC News' Victor Ordoñez

Oct 05, 2:08 pm
Facebook responds to hearing in statement

Facebook director of policy communications Lena Pietsch released a statement following whistleblower Frances Haugen's testimony, attempting to discredit her knowledge of the company.

"Today, a Senate Commerce subcommittee held a hearing with a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives – and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question. We don’t agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about," Pietsch wrote.

"Despite all this, we agree on one thing; it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet. It’s been 25 years since the rules for the internet have been updated, and instead of expecting the industry to make societal decisions that belong to legislators, it is time for Congress to act," the statement finished.

Multiple times during the hearing, lawmakers invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and communications spokespersons to appear before Congress and testify themselves.

Zuckerberg has remained silent on Haugen's allegations for days, and multiple senators mocked the billionaire over recent social media posts of him out sailing instead.

-ABC News' Zunaira Zaki

Oct 05, 2:00 pm
Hearing adjourns with plea for more whistleblowers to speak out

After more than three hours of testimony, the Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who has accused the company of deceiving users and investors and putting "profits before people," has adjourned.

While lawmakers battle it out over President Joe Biden’s agenda, they united on Tuesday to blast Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s silence on Haugen accusations, which raise alarms about the mental health of children and real-world dangers of hate speech she said Facebook knows it perpetuates but ignores. Lawmakers said she has provided hundreds of pages of documents of internal data to back her claims.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the subcommittee chair, closed by reading a text he said he received from a constituent who said he was in tears watching the hearing because, he said, he's seen first-hand how Instagram has changed his teenage daughter.

"'My 15-year-old daughter loved her body at 14. Was on Instagram constantly and maybe posting too much. Suddenly she started hating her body. Her body dysmorphia, now anorexia, and was in deep deep trouble before we found treatment. I fear she'll never be the same,'" Blumenthal said, quoting the father.

Haugen said "because of the nature of engagement-based ranking and amplification of interests," Facebook and Instagram users are "pushed towards extreme dieting and pro-anorexia content very rapidly" -- but that the algorithm perpetuating that could be changed.

After raising new allegations concerning Zuckerberg’s actions, national security concerns, and employee bonuses tied to a system shown to fuel misinformation, Haugen closed with a call to Congress to address Facebook’s growth and provide oversight as it’s historically done for other industries, like tobacco, in the past.

Saying that modern technological systems "walled off," Haugen also called on more whistleblowers with direct knowledge of wrongdoings in big tech to step forward.

"The fact we're being asked these false choices -- it's just an illustration of what happens when the real solutions are hidden inside of companies," she said. "We need more tech employees to come forward through legitimate channels, like the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) or Congress, to make sure that the public has the information they need in order to have technologies be human-centric, not computer central."

Oct 05, 1:39 pm
Blackburn blasts Facebook spokesperson, challenges him to testify

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate subcommittee hearing testimony from the Facebook whistleblower on Tuesday, responded directly to a Facebook spokesperson after a compelling first round of testimony from Frances Haugen.

Andy Stone had tweeted earlier and pointed out that Haugen did not work on child safety or Instagram research issues. Haugen, who worked as a project data manager was assigned to Facebook's civic integrity group.

Blackburn blasted Stone to come before Congress himself.

"I will simply say this to Mr. Stone: If Facebook wants to discuss their targeting of children -- if they want to discuss their practices, privacy invasion or violations of the Children Online Privacy Act, I am extending to you an invitation to step forward, be sworn in and testify before this committee. We would be pleased to hear from you and welcome your testimony," she said.

Oct 05, 1:36 pm
Whistleblower blasts Facebooks for lack of transparency when 'lives are on the line'

Whistleblower Frances Haugen reiterated to the Senate panel that Facebook's own data raises the concerns she's presenting to them and that the platform has unprecedented access into people's lives worldwide.

"They shouldn't be allowed to keep secrets when people's lives are on the line," she said. "To be clear, if they make $40 billion a year, they have the resources to solve these problems. They're choosing not to solve them."

She also told lawmakers she thinks there should be greater consideration to age when it comes to using any social media after her 15 years in big tech, keeping the focus of her message on its harmful effects on kids.

"I strongly encourage raising age limits to 16 or 18 years old, based on looking at the data around, problematic use or addiction on the platform and Children's self-regulation issues," she said.

She shared particular concern with Instagram, saying internal research shows the platform is "distinctly worse" than other social media platforms because, she said, "it’s about bodies and about comparing lifestyles."

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen: “They prioritize content in your feed so that you will give little hits of dopamine to your friends so they will create more content. And they have run experiments on people…where they have confirmed this.” https://t.co/NVq4U9INqw pic.twitter.com/twESwNIVcf

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 5, 2021

Oct 05, 12:50 pm
Lawmakers raise having 2nd hearing on Haugen's national security concerns

After whistleblower Frances Haugen raised concerns around Facebook's resourcing of counterterrorism and teams intended to counter foreign influence, lawmakers opened the door to holding another hearing.

"I believe Facebook's consistent understaffing of the counterespionage, information operations and counterterrorism teams is a national security issue, and I'm speaking to other parts of Congress about that," Haugen said.

Sen. Dan, Sullivan, R-Alaska, followed up, "So you're saying in essence that the platform, whether Facebook knows it or not, is being utilized by some of our adversaries in a way that helps push and promote their interests at the expense of America's?"

"Yes," she replied. "Facebook is very aware that this is happening on the platform, and I believe the fact that Congress doesn't get a report of exactly how many people are working on these things internally is unacceptable because you have a right to keep the American people safe."

“I have strong national security concerns about how Facebook operates today,” she added.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., then raised the possibility of holding a second hearing with Haugen on the issue and went on to thank her for her bravery and called for other whistleblowers to come forward.

Oct 05, 12:37 pm
Facebook responds to whistleblower by live-tweeting hearing

Facebook said communications staffer Andy Stone would live-tweet through the Senate hearing to respond to Frances Haugen's testimony.

"Just pointing out the fact that @FrancesHaugen did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook," he tweeted. "As she herself just said under oath, 'I don't work on it.'"

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., had asked if teenagers are some of Facebook's most profitable users.

"I'm sure they are some of the more profitable users on Facebook, but I do not work directly on them," Haugen said.

Facebook also pointed to a May op-ed in CNBC from Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president of global affairs, calling for "bipartisan approach on internet regulation."

But lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday, in a normally divided Washington, were united in blasting the social media giant after they said internal documents Haugen presented to them showed Facebook ignored its own evidence that it harms young users and fuels hate speech. Haugen also alleged CEO Mark Zuckerberg had the opportunity to intervene but dismissed the concern.

Oct 05, 12:18 pm
Whisteblower alleges employee bonuses tied to system driving hate speech

Using Ethiopia as an example, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told lawmakers the company is "pulling families apart" and fueling "ethnic tensions" as the platform's news feed ranking algorithm, via "meaningful social interactions" or MSIs, elevates polarizing content.

She said she has submitted documents to Congress showing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was presented with "soft intervention options" to MSIs in April 2021 and chose not to add features to intervene.

"Facebook's own algorithms are bad at finding this content. It's still in the raw form for 80, 90% of even that sensitive content," she said. "In countries where they don't have integrity systems in the language local language, and in the case of Ethiopia, there are 100 million people in Ethiopia and six languages -- Facebook only supports two of those languages for integrity systems."

“This strategy of focusing on language-specific content-specific systems AI to save us, is doomed to fail," she added.

Asked why Facebook wouldn’t get rid of "downstream MSIs" when data showed the system expanded hate speech, misinformation and violence-inciting content, she claimed that employee bonuses are still currently tied to MSIs.

"If you hurt MSI, a bunch of people weren't gonna get their bonuses," she said.

Oct 05, 11:53 am
Whistleblower alleges Facebook drives profits by 'hooking kids'

With the mental health of teens and preteens a prime focus at Tuesday's hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked Haugen directly if Facebook hooks users to its platforms at a young age in order to make them more profitable over the long term.

"They know that children bring their parents online -- so they understand the value of younger users for the long-term success of Facebook," said Haugen.

She also said they know children will bring family members to the platform, if not the reverse.

"Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow they have to find new users. They have to make sure that the next generation is just as engaged with Instagram as the current one, and the way they'll do that, making sure children establish habits before they have good self-regulation," added Hagen.

"By hooking kids?" asked Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

"By hooking kids," Haugen affirmed. "We need to protect the kids."

-ABC News' Zunaira Zaki, Mary Kathryn Burke and Victor Ordonez

Oct 05, 11:40 am
Instagram's effect on kids, Facebook 'misinformation,' key concerns for lawmakers

Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security focused on whistleblower Frances Haugen's leaked internal documents showing the media giant found evidence of its harmful effects on young users and its fueling of misinformation but did nothing to address either, putting "profits before people."

For the effect on kids, Haugen said it's a problem previous generations did not have to face.

"Kids who are bullied on Instagram, the bullying follows them home. It follows them into their bedrooms. The last thing they see before they go to bed at night is someone being cruel to them. Or the first thing in the morning, someone being cruel to them," she said.

She added the Facebook "definitely" targets kids as young as eight years old through its Messenger platform, among other tactics.

Haugen said if she had the power, she would establish more transparency with congressional oversight bodies, propose legislation on what an effective oversight agency would look and immediately re-implement the "soft interventions" identified to protect the 2020 election.

"No one censored being forced to click on a link before resharing it," she said.

Oct 05, 11:23 am
Whistleblower alleges Facebook, Instagram lead young users to anorexia content

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., raised the alleged harmful effects of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and the data whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked showing Facebook's own research found that more than 13% of teenage girls said that Instagram made their thoughts of suicide worse.

"What did they do? They proposed 'Instagram for Kids,' now been put on pause, because of public pressure," Klobuchar blasted, before asking Haugen if Facebook knows data has shown Instagram also promotes eating orders in young girls.

"Facebook knows that they are leading young users to anorexia content," Haugen said.

An internal Facebook study shown to lawmakers by Haugen that Klobuchar cited said 17% of teen girls said Instagram makes eating disorders worse.

Comparing the social media giant to tobacco companies targeting youth, Haugen said that Facebook is deliberately designing their product to be addictive.

"Facebook has a long history of having a successful and very effective growth division where they take little, tiny tweaks and constantly, constantly, constantly trying to optimize is to grow," she added.

“Facebook knows that they are leading young users to anorexia content,” whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies before a Senate committee. https://t.co/CRTsIER17w pic.twitter.com/F598VhLqf6

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 5, 2021

Oct 05, 11:08 am
Whistleblower: 'Buck stops with Mark'

Asked whether CEO Mark Zuckerberg would be the one to dictate the decisions around Facebook's algorithm, whistleblower Frances Haugen said yes, noting his "unique" role in the company, noting he holds over 55% of all voting shares.

"There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled, and in the end, the buck stops with Mark," Haugen said. "There's no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself."

In her opening statement, Haugen echoed Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in comparing Facebook's reckoning to a "big tobacco moment" and called on the government to take action.

"As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable. Until the incentives change. Facebook will not change," she said.

"When we realized big tobacco is hiding the harms that it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer than seatbelts, the government took action. And when our government learned that opioids are taking lives, the government took action," she said. "I implore you to do the same here today."

Haugen said that Facebook "wants you to believe that the problems we're talking about are unsolvable. They want you to believe in false choices. They want you to believe that you must choose between a Facebook full of divisive and extreme content or losing one of the most important values."

"I'm here today to tell you that that's not true," she said.

“The buck stops with Mark. There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself.”

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen reflects on Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership at the tech giant. https://t.co/dGd9wgHvG5 pic.twitter.com/lUBMESgPC9

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 5, 2021

Oct 05, 9:18 am
Blumenthal promises 'riveting testimony'

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, promised "riveting" testimony that would prove to be a "breakthrough moment" ahead of Tuesday's hearing.

"This whistleblower is one gutsy, smart, strong woman who is speaking truth to the nation about how Facebook is dragging children into dark places and deepening their insecurities with online bullying, self-injuries, suicide, eating disorders, and I think she will tell us what it's like to see the top Facebook executives make decisions that profit Facebook at the expense of children's safety, how they put children’s safety above -- below profit-making motive," Blumenthal told reporters Monday evening.

Blumenthal said the documents Haugen has provided show a "searing indictment of the top corporate management of Facebook ignoring their own study, their own surveys and research that showed how they were putting kids in danger, just so they could profit more."

He also alleged Facebook has been "utterly unresponsive" to the committee's requests to disclose their own studies and said he hopes Haugen coming forward will encourage other whistleblowers.

Oct 05, 8:57 am
Whistleblower to testify before Senate panel

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist turned whistleblower, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee at 10 a.m. on Facebook and Instagram’s impacts on young users in a hearing entitled, "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower. "

Beyond alleging Facebook’s knowledge of its platforms’ negative impact on teenagers and young girls, Haugen has reportedly come forward with documents showing the social media giant has also ignored but is aware of how hate speech and misinformation are emphasized on their sites.

Haugen, who revealed her identity during a Sunday interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" has been cooperating with the offices of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., chair and ranking member of the Senate committee that is assessing potential regulations for the social media giant.

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Lawmakers grill Facebook exec over Instagram's impact on teens after internal research leak

Lawmakers grill Facebook exec over Instagram's impact on teens after internal research leak

iStock/luchezar

(NEW YORK) -- Facebook's safety head was questioned by lawmakers on Thursday over what the company knew about the potential for Instagram to be harmful to young users' mental health.

The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security convened the hearing in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation citing Facebook's own internal research, allegedly leaked by a whistleblower, which found Instagram adversely impacted mental health issues in teens, especially girls. Among the findings were that Instagram made body image issues worse for 1 in 3 teens.

The Journal's reporting has sparked a fierce backlash amid accusations the tech giant publicly downplayed what it knew about how potentially harmful Instagram could be while also doing nothing to prevent it.

"We're here today because Facebook has shown us once again that it is incapable of holding itself accountable," Committee Chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in his opening remarks. "This month, a whistleblower approached my office to provide information about Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to documents provided by that whistleblower, as well as extensive public reporting by The Wall Street Journal and others, we now have deep insight into Facebook's relentless campaign to recruit and exploit young users."

"We now know that Facebook routinely puts profits ahead of kids' online safety," he added. "We know it chooses the growth of its products over the well-being of our children, and we now know that it is in defensively delinquent in acting to protect them."

In the wake of the Wall Street Journal expose, Facebook announced earlier this week that it was "pausing" development of an Instagram for Kids platform, but stopped short of scrapping it.

Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, faced bipartisan scrutiny as she defended the company during the hearing that lasted some three hours. She denied Blumenthal's claims.

"We understand that recent reporting has raised a lot of questions about our internal research, including research we do to better understand young people's experiences on Instagram," Davis stated in written testimony. "We strongly disagree with how this reporting characterized our work, so we want to be clear about what that research shows, and what it does not show."

"We undertook this work to inform internal conversations about teens' most negative perceptions of Instagram," she added. "It did not measure causal relationships between Instagram and real-world issues."

Davis said the reporting "implied that the results were surprising and that we hid this research," which she said wasn't true and that the company has discussed the "strengths and weaknesses of social media and well-being publicly for more than a decade."

She also highlighted aspects of Facebook's in-house research that she said the Journal didn't include in recent stories, such as reports that Instagram made "sadness" and "loneliness" better for a majority of teenage girls.

Davis said they have removed some 600,000 accounts on Instagram alone between June and August for not meeting the age requirement of 13 years old. She also said the company has "put in place multiple protections to create safe and age-appropriate experiences for people between the ages of 13 and 17."

The hearing comes as Big Tech has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle over myriad issues, from allowing the spread of misinformation to allegations of political censorship. Lawmakers on Thursday compared Instagram's policies to Big Tobacco's previous tactics to attract users before there was government intervention.

Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor of communication at Cornell University whose research focuses on the intersection of media, culture and technology, told ABC News via email on Thursday that Big Tech's self-regulation hasn't worked.

Remarks from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., referring to "traditional media's regulation of material for children -- including limitations on advertising that have long guided the television industry -- attest to a growing recognition that external regulation of the platforms is critical," Duffy said. "While Big Tech has long flaunted its mechanisms of self-regulation, these have failed -- and continue to fail -- its users."

Duffy said another key takeaway from Davis' testimony was "a refusal to agree to a long-term promise to abandon plans of further developing Instagram for Kids." She called the initiative "part of a long-term strategy by Big Tech to court younger -- and less witting -- users who the platforms can inevitably collect data from."

Lawmakers on Thursday called for the need to update the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

In prepared remarks, Davis defended building an Instagram "for tweens," noting that other companies such as YouTube and TikTok already have developed versions of their app for those under 13.

"The principle is the same: It's much better for kids to use a safer, more age-appropriate version of social media apps than the alternative," Davis said. "That said, we recognize how important it is to get this right."

"We have heard your concerns, and that is why we announced that we are pausing the project to take more time," she added. "We'll keep listening to parents, keep talking with policymakers and regulators, keep taking guidance from experts and researchers, and we'll revisit this project at a later date."

 

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Facebook hearing live updates: Whistleblower Frances Haugen to testify

Facebook hearing live updates: Whistleblower Frances Haugen to testify

JasonDoiy/iStock

(WASHINGTON) -- A Senate subcommittee on Tuesday is hearing from a whistleblower who claims Facebook manipulated content it knew was harmful to young users, a day after the social media giant experienced an apparently unrelated massive outage.

Frances Haugen, who revealed her identity during a Sunday interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, has been cooperating with a Senate Commerce subcommittee as part of its ongoing efforts to assess potential regulations for the platform. Haugen is expected to tell lawmakers on Tuesday about evidence she reportedly has showing that the company intentionally ignored proof of its potentially harmful impact on users.

"Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money," she told 60 Minutes.

Facebook has publicly refuted Haugen's claims.

Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:

Oct 05, 9:18 am
Blumenthal promises 'riveting testimony'

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, promised "riveting" testimony that would prove to be a "breakthrough moment" ahead of Tuesday's hearing.

"This whistleblower is one gutsy, smart, strong woman who is speaking truth to the nation about how Facebook is dragging children into dark places and deepening their insecurities with online bullying, self-injuries, suicide, eating disorders, and I think she will tell us what it's like to see the top Facebook executives make decisions that profit Facebook at the expense of children's safety, how they put children’s safety above -- below profit-making motive," Blumenthal told reporters Monday evening.

Blumenthal said the documents Haugen has provided show a "searing indictment of the top corporate management of Facebook ignoring their own study, their own surveys and research that showed how they were putting kids in danger, just so they could profit more."

He also alleged Facebook has been "utterly unresponsive" to the committee's requests to disclose their own studies and said he hopes Haugen coming forward will encourage other whistleblowers.

Oct 05, 8:57 am
Whistleblower to testify before Senate panel

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist turned whistleblower, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee at 10 a.m. on Facebook and Instagram’s impacts on young users in a hearing entitled, "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower. "

Beyond alleging Facebook’s knowledge of its platforms’ negative impact on teenagers and young girls, Haugen has reportedly come forward with documents showing the social media giant has also ignored but is aware of how hate speech and misinformation are emphasized on their sites.

Haugen, who revealed her identity during a Sunday interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" has been cooperating with the offices of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., chair and ranking member of the Senate committee that is assessing potential regulations for the social media giant.

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Facebook whistleblower to testify on tech giant before Senate committee

Facebook whistleblower to testify on tech giant before Senate committee

Luka Banda/iStock

(WASHINGTON) -- The Facebook whistleblower who unearthed documents she says shows the company had knowledge of its platforms' negative impact will appear before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday.

Frances Haugen, who revealed her identity during a Sunday interview on CBS' 60 Minutes has been cooperating with a Senate Commerce subcommittee as part of its ongoing efforts to assess potential regulations for the social media giant.

Documents obtained by Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, led to a series from the Wall Street Journal that reported that Facebook commissioned studies about and knew of potential harm that it was causing from negative or inflammatory content and did not act to stop it. Among the findings cited in the report were that Instagram made body image issues worse for one in three teens.

ABC News has not independently reviewed these documents, but Haugen is expected to tell the Senate subcommittee about the evidence she reportedly has that she says shows that the company intentionally ignored evidence of its potentially harmful impact.

"There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook," Haugen alleged on 60 Minutes on Sunday. "And Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests like making more money."

Facebook has publicly refuted Haugen's claims, pointing to investments in security that the company has made in recent years.

"Every day our teams have to balance protecting the ability of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place," Lena Pietsch, the director of policy communications for Facebook, said in a statement Sunday. "To suggest we encourage bad content or do nothing is just not true."

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, said in a CNN interview on Sunday those making accusations that the company is commissioning research to "deliberately" brush it aside have it "back to front."

"If we didn't want to address those questions, we wouldn't commission the research in the first place," Clegg said.

Haugen's career has included stops at Google, Pinterest and other social media companies, but she claimed what she saw at Facebook was "substantially worse."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protections, Product Safety and Data Security, said in a tweet that he's been speaking with Haugen in the lead-up to her testimony.

"From her first visit with my office, I’ve admired her backbone & bravery in revealing terrible truths about one of the world’s most powerful, implacable corporate giants," Blumenthal said in a tweet. "Facebook’s actions make clear that we cannot trust it to police itself. We must consider stronger oversight, effective protections for children, & tools for parents, among the needed reforms."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, the top Republican on the Senate subcommittee that will hear from Haugen, said it has been "fascinating" to comb over documents that Haugen provided the committee.

"What we want to know is how much data is Facebook capturing and what are they doing with that data, how long do they keep it, are they sharing with third parties, are they getting permission when they are datamining these children," Blackburn said on Fox Business on Monday.

It is not clear how much information Haugen has shared with the committee in advance of her testimony, but during her interview Sunday, Haugen said she took thousands of pages of documents from Facebook so that "no one can question that this is real."

Haugen also alleged on CBS that Facebook decided to ease safeguards put in place to stop the spread of disinformation during the 2020 election season, which she says contributed to the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

In an internal memo obtained by the New York Times, Clegg refuted that allegation as well.

"Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out," Clegg wrote. "But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization."

Haugen's appearance before the committee Tuesday comes as part of an ongoing effort by Congress to assess how to regulate massive social media companies such as Facebook.

Last week, in a hearing before the same subcommittee that Haugen will appear before, lawmakers accused Facebook of taking a page from "big tobacco's playbook" by hiding research about what they consider to be its addictive and harmful nature.

Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, faced bipartisan scrutiny as she defended the company during the hearing that lasted some three hours.

"We understand that recent reporting has raised a lot of questions about our internal research, including research we do to better understand young people's experiences on Instagram," Davis stated in written testimony. "We strongly disagree with how this reporting characterized our work, so we want to be clear about what that research shows, and what it does not show."

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Facebook explains app outage after services are restored

Facebook explains app outage after services are restored

iStock/luchezar

(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back.

The apps, owned by Facebook, stopped working Monday for millions of users across the U.S., according to outage site Down Detector.

Both the mobile and web browser editions of the apps were not working as of 11:42 a.m. ET, the site reported.

They were down for more than six hours.

"To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We've been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us," Facebook said Monday evening, once the apps began working again.

Later on Monday, the company explained why the outage occurred.

"Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt," Facebook said in a statement.

Despite the many theories that have been circling the internet since the outage, Facebook said it has no evidence that any user data was compromised during the disruption.

"Our services are now back online and we're actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change. We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime," they said.

On Monday afternoon, when the outage was first reported, a Facebook company spokesperson told ABC News, "We're aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience."

The company added that it was experiencing "networking issues" and gave no timeline for a fix.

"Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook-powered services right now," Facebook said at the time. "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible"

The Instagram and Facebook outages come shortly after a whistleblower came forward and claimed to CBS News that the company could do more to protect against hate speech and misinformation but prioritizes profits over its users.

Following the Sunday "60 Minutes" interview with the whistleblower, identified as Frances Haugen, a data scientist, the company put out a statement defending itself.

"We've invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority," the company said in a statement. "If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago."

After the whistleblower's identity was made public, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., announced the Senate will hold a hearing in the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee Tuesday to hear from Haugen about Facebook and Instagram's impacts on young users.

Facebook's stock took a severe hit Monday following the whistleblower's revelations and the outage, recording its worst day of the year. At closing, the stock was trading at $326.23 a share, down 16.78 points or 4.89%.

The situation promoted other social media sites to make some fun jokes.

Twitter's official account tweeted, "Hello literally everyone," Monday afternoon.

The tweet prompted several funny replies from other major accounts, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Starbucks, which tweeted, "Perfect time for a coffee break."

Twitter users later on Monday reported some issues with the app due to an increase in users, but Twitter's support page said the matter was fixed.

"Sometimes more people than usual use Twitter. We prepare for these moments, but today things didn't go exactly as planned. Some of you may have had an issue seeing replies and DMs as a result. This has been fixed. Sorry about that!" Twitter Support tweeted.

On Monday afternoon, the Facebook status page came back online with a message for users. "Major disruptions: Platform Status," it read. "We are aware that there is an ongoing issue impacting our service. Our engineers are working on it. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Facebook's safety head was questioned by lawmakers last Thursday over what the company knew about the potential for Instagram to be harmful to young users' mental health.

The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security convened the hearing in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation citing Facebook's own internal research, allegedly leaked by a whistleblower, that found Instagram adversely impacted mental health issues in teens, especially girls.

"We're here today because Facebook has shown us once again that it is incapable of holding itself accountable," Blumenthal said in his opening remarks last week.

Facebook defended itself against the bipartisan scrutiny at the hearing.

"We understand that recent reporting has raised a lot of questions about our internal research, including research we do to better understand young people's experiences on Instagram," Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, stated in written testimony. "We strongly disagree with how this reporting characterized our work, so we want to be clear about what that research shows, and what it does not show."

The new, upcoming committee hearing, titled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower," is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back after hours-long shutdown

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back after hours-long shutdown

iStock/luchezar

(NEW YORK) -- Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back.

The apps, owned by Facebook, stopped working Monday for millions of users across the U.S., according to outage site Down Detector.

Both the mobile and web browser editions of the apps were not working as of 11:42 a.m. ET, the site reported.

They were down for more than six hours.

"To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us," Facebook said Monday evening, once the apps began working again.

On Monday afternoon, a Facebook company spokesperson told ABC News, "We're aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience."

The company added that it was experiencing "networking issues" and gave no timeline for a fix.

"Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook-powered services right now," Facebook said at the time. "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible"

The Instagram and Facebook outages come shortly after a whistleblower came forward and claimed to CBS News that the company could do more to protect against hate speech and misinformation but prioritizes profits over its users.

Following the Sunday "60 Minutes" interview with the whistleblower, identified as Frances Haugen, a data scientist, the company put out a statement defending itself.

"We've invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority," the company said in a statement. "If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago."

After the whistleblower's identity was made public, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., announced the Senate will hold a hearing in the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee Tuesday to hear from Haugen about Facebook and Instagram's impacts on young users.

Facebook's stock took a severe hit Monday following the whistleblower's revelations and the outage, recording its worst day of the year. At closing, the stock was trading at $326.23 a share, down 16.78 points or 4.89%.

The situation promoted other social media sites to make some fun jokes.

Twitter's official account tweeted, "Hello literally everyone," Monday afternoon.

The tweet prompted several funny replies from other major accounts, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Starbucks, which tweeted, "Perfect time for a coffee break."

Twitter users later on Monday reported some issues with the app due to an increase in users, but Twitter's support page said the matter was fixed.

"Sometimes more people than usual use Twitter. We prepare for these moments, but today things didn't go exactly as planned. Some of you may have had an issue seeing replies and DMs as a result. This has been fixed. Sorry about that!" Twitter Support tweeted.

On Monday afternoon, the Facebook status page came back online with a message for users. "Major disruptions: Platform Status," it read. "We are aware that there is an ongoing issue impacting our service. Our engineers are working on it. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Facebook's safety head was questioned by lawmakers last Thursday over what the company knew about the potential for Instagram to be harmful to young users' mental health.

The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security convened the hearing in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation citing Facebook's own internal research, allegedly leaked by a whistleblower, which found Instagram adversely impacted mental health issues in teens, especially girls.

"We're here today because Facebook has shown us once again that it is incapable of holding itself accountable," Blumenthal said in his opening remarks last week.

Facebook defended itself against the bipartisan scrutiny at the hearing.

"We understand that recent reporting has raised a lot of questions about our internal research, including research we do to better understand young people's experiences on Instagram," Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, stated in written testimony. "We strongly disagree with how this reporting characterized our work, so we want to be clear about what that research shows, and what it does not show."

The new, upcoming committee hearing, titled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower," is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

ABC News' Victor Ordonez contributed to this report

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Windows 11 rolls out to PC users - but not all of them

Windows 11 rolls out to PC users - but not all of them

Microsoft

(NEW YORK) -- Starting Tuesday, PC owners who run Windows 10 will be eligible to download Windows 11 for free. But the ability to use Microsoft's latest operating system will largely depend on your computer's age, and what type of processor it uses.

When Microsoft first showed off Windows 11 over the summer, it also announced some restrictions on what types of PCs are eligible for the new operating system. The company says your PC will need a special processor known as a Trusted Platform Module, or "TPM," chip in order to run Windows 11.

"It's a little chip the size of your fingernail that lives on the motherboard, sometimes it's on the CPU," says Digital Trends Managing Editor Nick Mokey. "It's there for security purposes, there's a good reason Microsoft wants it." 

In a June 25th blog post, Microsoft's Director of Enterprise and OS Security David Weston wrote that the purpose of the company's TPM requirement is to "help protect encryption keys, user credentials, and other sensitive data behind a hardware barrier so that malware and attackers can’t access or tamper with that data."

Windows 11 launches against the backdrop of a rise in ransomware attacks. Some of those attacks, such as the SolarWinds hack, specifically targeted Microsoft code. 

Mokey says newer computers are more likely to include the TPM chip.

"The exception would be some people who built their own computers might not have the chip that you need. Also some gaming computers don't come stock with them," says Mokey. "But if you have something within - that you bought sort of out of the box within the last few years it's quite likely you'll be able to run Windows 11."

To figure out if your computer can run Windows 11, Mokey recommends using Microsoft's "PC Health Check" app.

"It takes a couple seconds to download, it'll run on your PC, look at the specs and tell you with no ambiguity whether you can run Windows 11."

Windows 11 brings a number of non-security related updates to PC users as well. Microsoft has moved the Start menu from the bottom left corner of the home screen to the bottom center (though the system also gives users the option to move it back to the traditional location). And Mokey says that's only the start of the design updates to the new OS.

"It's definitely a very different look than Windows 10," says Mokey. "I think it's a cleaner look. Microsoft has implemented these, sort of, rounded, glassy-looking menus. Some of the animations are more fluid."

He adds Windows 11 makes some under-the-hood changes as well.

"Microsoft has also promised some better performance. So that means both better battery life, better security... and there's actually some perks for gamers in there as well, performance-wise," says Mokey.

One of the buzzier features Microsoft is touting with Windows 11 is the ability to run Android apps on the desktop. That would allow users to download and run apps like TikTok through the Microsoft Store - just not right away.

"I think that was one of the features people were most excited about and Microsoft kind of threw a wet blanket on that," says Mokey. "At launch that will not be available."

Microsoft has not said when the feature will launch on Windows 11.

Hear ABC News Radio's Cheri Preston report on Windows 11:

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Carvel brews up 3 new 'Hocus Pocus' shakes for 31 Nights of Halloween

Carvel brews up 3 new 'Hocus Pocus' shakes for 31 Nights of Halloween

Carvel/Freeform

(NEW YORK) -- Freeform and ice cream shop Carvel conjured up a sweet collaboration to celebrate the 31 Nights of Halloween.

Carvel added three limited-edition shakes, each one inspired by the Sanderson Sisters of Disney’s hit holiday movie “Hocus Pocus," to get in the spirit for the network’s highly anticipated month-long movie lineup.

Sarah’s Chilling Churro Shake is a blend of crunchy churro pieces and cinnamon-sugar churro ice cream that's topped with whipped cream and yellow sprinkles.

Winnie’s Glorious Cake Batter Shake is cake batter ice cream that's blended then topped with whipped cream and orange sprinkles.

Mary’s Divine Cookies and Cream Shake combines classic vanilla soft serve with cookies and cream pieces that's topped with violet sprinkles.

"Much like enjoying a Carvel ice cream treat, watching Freeform’s ‘31 Nights of Halloween’ and Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ delivers a true sense of nostalgia and traditions," Delia Wong, Carvel's director of marketing, said in a statement. "With these shakes inspired by everyone’s favorite witchy sisters, Halloween and ice cream fans alike will have plenty of opportunities to soak up spooky season memories and create new ones."

The custom treats are served in limited-edition cups with corresponding spoons for $4.79 available through Oct. 31.

This marks Carvel's third year of partnership with Freeform. New to the festive collab is Ryan Porter’s Candier, which crafted a "Mostly Dead on the Inside" fall-scented candle line to light up the "31 Nights of Halloween."

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Facebook, Instagram down for users across U.S.

Facebook, Instagram down for users across U.S.

iStock/luchezar

(NEW YORK) -- Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were all down Monday for millions of users across the U.S., according to outage site Down Detector.

Both the mobile and web browser editions of the apps were not working as of 11:42 a.m. ET, the site reported.

"We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience," a Facebook company spokesperson told ABC News.

The company said it's still experiencing "networking issues" in a statement Monday afternoon. No timeline for a fix has been released.

“Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook-powered services right now," the company said in a statement Monday afternoon. "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible”

The Instagram and Facebook outages come shortly after a whistleblower came forward and claimed to CBS News that the company could do more to protect against hate speech and misinformation but it prioritizes profits over its users.

Following the Sunday "60 Minutes" interview with the whistleblower, identified as Frances Haugen, a data scientist, the company put out a statement defending itself.

"We've invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority," the company said in a statement. "If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago."

After the whistleblower's identity was made public, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., announced the Senate will hold a hearing in the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee Tuesday to hear from Haugen about Facebook and Instagram's impacts on young users.

Facebook's stock took a severe hit Monday following the whistleblower's revelations and the outage, recording its worst day of the year. At closing, the stock was trading at $326.23 a share, down 16.78 points or 4.89%.

The situation promoted other social media sites to make some fun jokes.

Twitter's official account tweeted a cheeky post, "hello literally everyone," Monday afternoon.

hello literally everyone

— Twitter (@Twitter) October 4, 2021

The tweet prompted several funny replies from other major accounts, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Starbucks, which tweeted, "Perfect time for a coffee break."

59.6 million nuggets for my friends

— Twitter (@Twitter) October 4, 2021

The situation promoted other social media sites to make some fun jokes.

Twitter's official account tweeted a cheeky post, "hello literally everyone," Monday afternoon.

The tweet prompted several funny replies from other major accounts, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Starbucks, which tweeted, "Perfect time for a coffee break."

Facebook's safety head was questioned by lawmakers last Thursday over what the company knew about the potential for Instagram to be harmful to young users' mental health.

The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security convened the hearing in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation citing Facebook's own internal research, allegedly leaked by a whistleblower, that found Instagram adversely impacted mental health issues in teens, especially girls.

"We're here today because Facebook has shown us once again that it is incapable of holding itself accountable," Blumenthal said in his opening remarks last week.

Facebook defended itself against the bipartisan scrutiny at the hearing.

"We understand that recent reporting has raised a lot of questions about our internal research, including research we do to better understand young people's experiences on Instagram," Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, stated in written testimony. "We strongly disagree with how this reporting characterized our work, so we want to be clear about what that research shows, and what it does not show."

The new, upcoming committee hearing, titled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower," is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Victoria's Secret debuts mastectomy bra, breast cancer awareness initiative with Stella McCartney

Victoria's Secret debuts mastectomy bra, breast cancer awareness initiative with Stella McCartney

Victoria's Secret

(NEW YORK) -- Breast Cancer Awareness Month has started and Victoria's Secret is launching several new initiatives around the cause.

The lingerie line is launching its first mastectomy bra throughout October and while supplies last.

The Body by Victoria Mastectomy Bra was created to support thousands of women who undergo mastectomies each year as part of their fight against breast cancer, the company says.

The undergarment features a wire-free design made with soft micro fabric and lace. The bra also includes a pocket located within the inner lining to fit a prosthetic.

Priced at $49.50, the bra is available in black and champagne white. One hundred percent of sales will be donated to The Victoria's Secret Global Fund for Women's Cancers to support breast cancer research and discoveries.

In addition to Victoria's Secret's new mastectomy bra, the company has teamed up with fashion designer Stella McCartney to launch a public service announcement that aims to create a greater understanding of the risks of breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

"As the world's leading lingerie brand, the health and well-being of women is paramount to our community," said Victoria's Secret chief marketing officer Martha Pease in a statement.

She continued: "We have a unique opportunity but also a responsibility to use our platform and scale of our global footprint to bring greater awareness to the risks of breast cancer, especially among younger women, and educate around the effectiveness of self-checks."

The campaign extends now through Oct. 31, 2021, and will also include a #CheckYourself reminder along with a guide provided by The Stella Cares Foundation, on how to effectively perform a breast self-exam.

The campaign will extend to social media and over 25,000 Victoria's Secret employees worldwide will receive educational materials to help reach hundreds of thousands of women, the company said.

The company also said it will invest at least $5 million annually in cancer research, including examining and addressing racial and gender inequities and unlocking new innovations that improve cancer outcomes for all women.

The news of Victoria's Secret's breast cancer awareness plans comes a few months after the brand announced a total rebrand that aims to include diverse, inclusive messaging.

The company also launched VS Collective -- a platform created to develop new associate programs, revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content and rally support for causes vital to women. Notables such as Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Megan Rapinoe, Paloma Elsesser and several more are a part of the collective.

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Disney's 50th anniversary celebration travel guide

Disney's 50th anniversary celebration travel guide

Manakin/iStock

(LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.) -- October 1 marks 50 years since Walt Disney World Resort officially opened to guests.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, "The Most Magical Place on Earth" has put together an 18-month event featuring new attractions, nighttime spectaculars and a lot more.

"Guests will discover new experiences across the resort, where shimmering EARidescence appears as if by magic everywhere from theme parks to Disney Resort hotels to transportation to merchandise and more," Disney said in a press release.

In honor of "The World’s Most Magical Celebration," here are six things to watch for as you plan your trip for the 50th-anniversary celebration.

1. Expanded EPCOT France Pavilion

The France Pavilion at EPCOT is serving up a new attraction and a new restaurant.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a family-friendly attraction where guests are shrunk to the size of Chef Remy from Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award-winning film, Ratatouille.

The new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris, offers table and quick-service options featuring items like sweet crepes and savory buckwheat galettes.

2. Nighttime Spectacular ‘Harmonious’

EPCOT guests can also experience "Harmonious," one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park.

The show at World Showcase Lagoon features new interpretations of classic Disney songs from a diverse group of 240 artists from around the world.

3. ‘Disney Enchantment’ at Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom Park is also debuting a new nighttime spectacular called “Disney Enchantment."

According to a press release, “Disney Enchantment” features stunning fireworks, powerful music, enhanced lighting and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A."

4. ‘Disney KiteTails’ at Animal Kingdom

Discovery River Theater at Animal Kingdom will now feature "Disney KiteTails" several times daily.

You can watch performers fly windcatchers and kites of all shapes and sizes to the beat of favorite Disney songs.

5. Beacons of Magic

Four icons at Walt Disney World theme parks will transform at night into Beacons of Magic.

Cinderella Castle, Tree of Life, The Hollywood Tower Hotel, and Spaceship Earth will all come to life with their own "EARidescent" glow.

6. ‘Disney Fab 50 Character Collection’ Sculptures

In honor of the park's 50th anniversary, 50 golden sculptures have been spread across the four Walt Disney World theme parks.

These sculptures feature characters from Timon and Pumba from The Lion King to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Costco, Walmart rent out own shipping containers amid supply chain hiccups ahead of holidays

Costco, Walmart rent out own shipping containers amid supply chain hiccups ahead of holidays

slobo/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- The backup of container ships off the coast of major ports of entry has greatly slowed the nation's supply chain, prompting new possible workarounds ahead of the busy holiday retail season.

Many shipping companies and retailers have struggled recently with the massive backlog of goods and soon consumers could bear the brunt of higher prices.

The onslaught of manufacturing and cargo disruptions has threatened shipping delays and epic shortages for in-demand products and retail experts have urged consumers to start holiday shopping now.

"We're witnessing a pandemic-induced buying surge by the American consumer, the likes of which we've never seen," Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told Good Morning America.

The downward spiral first started when COVID-19-induced shutdowns in Asia drove shipping and production delays. That created shortages in shipping containers and was compounded by limited warehouse space, trucking issues and labor shortages.

"There are shortages across a number of industries, perhaps nowhere more acutely so than in front-line workers such as port workers and truck drivers," Aaron Terrazas, convy director of economic research, explained to GMA.

Now large retailers like Costco, Walmart and Home Depot have started to take matters into their own hands by renting out their own shipping containers and looking for different ports of entry.

More container freights that would typically enter through Long Beach are being redirected to Oakland, Vancouver, Savannah or Houston, in order to circumvent the delays.

While it could take upwards of a month to continue to untangle the global mess, port officials in Long Beach said they have extended operating hours, including working weekends.

And experts reiterated a now resounding message to start shopping the holiday season early.

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MAC Cosmetics announces upcoming Whitney Houston makeup collection

MAC Cosmetics announces upcoming Whitney Houston makeup collection

L. Busacca/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Whitney Houston will always be remembered as an extraordinary musician, actress and beauty icon.

MAC Cosmetics is honoring her life and legacy by launching a makeup collection that's being created through a long-term collaboration with the Whitney Houston Estate.

The collection is slated to launch in 2022 and will support Houston's upcoming biopic "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" through makeup support, and recreating some of Whitney's most iconic looks of all time.

"Whitney Houston is a true legend whose talent has and will continue to transcend decades," said Aïda Moudachirou-Rebois, chief marketing officer, MAC Cosmetics, in a statement.

She continued, “Just like the depths of her vocal range, she was a true beauty and MAC lover who could seamlessly go from a natural 'no makeup-makeup look’ to full glam and bold colors without missing a beat. We are honored to support Whitney's upcoming biopic and to continue to help tell her beauty story in many moments to come."

While this is the first time MAC Cosmetics is creating a makeup line inspired by Houston, the brand has launched other collections inspired by musical greats such as the late Mexican-American singer Selena as well as singer and actress Aaliyah who died in 2001.

Now, Houston will join the brand's lineup of dedicated makeup collections honoring some of the most beloved beauty chameleons.

On behalf of The Whitney Houston Estate, her sister, Pat Houston, shared in a statement, "Whitney possessed once-in-a-lifetime inner and outer beauty. As the film begins production, it's so gratifying to develop a brand partnership with MAC Cosmetics. MAC was Whitney's favorite cosmetics line and I know they will honor her legacy and her beauty."

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Return-to-office style: Letting go of dress codes; embracing hybrid fashion and individuality

Return-to-office style: Letting go of dress codes; embracing hybrid fashion and individuality

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(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans have traded traditional work wardrobes for loungewear in the nearly two years of working remotely during the pandemic.

Now, as companies discuss return-to-office plans, many people are also rethinking what their post-pandemic workwear might look like. Will traditional "work vs. weekend" wardrobes become a thing of the past after the pandemic?

"The lines between work and weekend have been blurring for decades," Deirdre Clemente, professor of fashion history at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, told "Good Morning America." "This transition, [due to the pandemic] has certainly been faster since business casual became the standard for workplace attire in the early 2000s. So what we view as pandemic dress standards have actually been coming slowly for quite some time."

"Dress standards change as American culture changes," she added. "The pandemic has put many aspects of our lives into sharp focus."

As the trend of casual workwear was accelerated by the pandemic, fashion retailers have also had to adapt to strike a balance between comfort and polished apparel.

Executives at men's fashion brand Suitsupply, known for providing a wide array of trendy work-ready suiting as well as casual wear, noticed their customers have recently started to gravitate toward relaxed styles.

"There is a sort of hybrid composition to an outfit happening at the moment," Suitsupply CEO & founder Fokke de Jong told "GMA." "We're seeing suits come back big time and people are using alternative layers underneath to dress them down — we call it 'elevated casual.'"

"We're meeting this movement with smart crossover pieces like knitted suits and dressy trousers with casual details like drawstring closures and elastic waistbands," he said. Jong also points out items such as shirt-jackets working well for a more relaxed office setting, while cotton-cashmere sweatsuits and pure cashmere hoodies brings a more refined touch to leisurewear — making them ideal for a home office.

Alternatively, athleisure apparel brands, such as Lululemon, have found ways to fully lean into their current offerings based on increased customer demand.

Lululemon's latest 11-market global study survey of male participants found a connection between comfort and confidence. Eight in 10 millennial men said perform better at work when they are dressed comfortably and close to nine in 10 would like their employer to loosen up dress code rules, according to their survey.

"The data provides a long-overdue recognition that professional workwear can and should be functional, versatile, and comfortable — and when it is all three, it can positively affect performance, confidence and more," said Lululemon chief product officer Sun Choe in a statement.

"In many ways, both working from home and this 'next normal' of a hybrid work environment has amplified what Lululemon has been designing for all along — versatile, distraction-free garments that move with you through changing conditions and activities, making the wearer feel confident and looking sharp," said Lululemon senior vice president, design, Ben Stubbington in a statement.

He continued, "The success and current strength of Lululemon's iconic ABC Pant, as well as several other key styles, highlight how consumers are shopping for functional, versatile items that don't sacrifice on style.”

While experts say it's difficult to confirm the lasting power of the pandemic comfort trend, Clemente says that post-pandemic work wardrobes will be more versatile and individualized.

"Many things that mattered so much before have less meaning now, she said. "Our clothes will come to reflect these new social standards, that's how fashion works."

"Some people will choose a more formal attire, for a while at least," Clemente added. "Others will just walk in as if they were still working out of their spare bedroom."

"More than any other time in human history, we have a vast array of wardrobe choices."

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How these 4 Latinx, female-owned small businesses are making a name for themselves

How these 4 Latinx, female-owned small businesses are making a name for themselves

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(NEW YORK) -- Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the rich culture, achievements and valuable contributions of Hispanic, Latino, Latina and Latinx Americans who have made waves and inspired others to achieve success in their community and beyond.

The Hispanic-Latinx community makes up an estimated 18.7% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

To mark Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, we are highlighting a few small businesses that are an integral part of the fabric of the U.S. and beyond.

Ceremonia
Business: Hair care

Ceremonia is a clean hair care brand rooted in Latinx heritage. After growing up in Sweden, Babba Rivera, founder of Ceremonia, felt driven to bring change to the hair care community by starting a business that honored and represented her Chilean background. For years, she ignored her Latinx roots because she was not exposed to other entrepreneurs like her.

Rivera is the daughter of a hairdresser, which means beauty and hair care were always a priority for her family, with routine trips to relatives in Chile to keep up with the latest trends. Ceremonia focuses on hair wellness through the use of clean hair care.

"I have this stage of my life to thank for my fearless attitude today, because there is something very empowering about feeling like you know how to work your way up from nothing," she said.

Rivera's multifaceted career path prepared her to start Ceremonia during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and contributed to her being a strong, proud Latinx business owner.

"With immigrant parents who did not speak the language and struggled to find a job, I often feel like I've gotten to where I am today against all odds. There's something extremely humbling about the journey that has led me here and I feel incredibly proud and lucky to be where I am today," Rivera said.

Rivera is not the only one who recognizes her achievements. Forbes awarded her with a spot on their prestigious "30 Under 30" list, which is the "definitive list of young people changing the world." As Ceremonia gains traction, Rivera continues to reach higher in hopes that more Latinx entrepreneurs will develop businesses.

"My dream is for Ceremonia to continue to be at the forefront of this progress and inspire other brands to follow suit," Rivera said.

 

Afrogirlie
Business: Handbags

Founded by proud Afro-Latina Leanna Castillo, Afrogirlie is an online purse boutique heaven.

This trendy business' mission is to help its clients exude excellence, no matter what they do. According to Castillo, one of the most important pillars for her business was to "create something that was attainable for all women, regardless of socioeconomic background. You can have an amazing high-quality bag, and it doesn't need to break the bank."

Castillo is a Honduran American with a passion for entrepreneurship. Castillo admitted, "Being Afro Latinx is a unique experience. Outwardly the world looks at you and makes assumptions about you. This inspired me to create my business doing what I love most, which is fashion."

As Castillo feeds her passion, her hope is to pay tribute to Black and Afro Latinas who were trailblazers in modern fashion. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to "be patient."

"It takes time to nurture a business, it's truly like a baby, and it will need love and attention," she said. "To my fellow Afro-Latinx entrepreneurs, we have such a unique experience and we must exploit that [in a good way]. Be your unapologetic authentic self."

 

Old Salt Merchants
Business: Spices, teas and other kitchen essentials

Old Salt Merchants is a Latinx owned and operated provisions company born in the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend, Washington. The company's mission is to "ignite and expand our customers' palates by sourcing a high-quality selection of gourmet products that are bold and irresistibly unique."

"As far back as I can remember, I used to rummage through my mom's spice cabinet and couldn't help but focus on the unique smell all of the different spices had," said Monique Rodriguez, the founder and CEO of Old Salt Merchants.

She continued, "The earthy and slightly pungent smell of cumin, for example, still reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen."

This is where the founder's love for spices was born. "Our brand is influenced by my Mexican heritage and the importance of not only celebrating but acknowledging all the different cultures through food," she said.

As a Hispanic woman-owned and operated company, Old Salt Merchants wants to create awareness around the contributions made by the Latinx community, but especially those made by women. Rodriguez attributed her success to perseverance during the pandemic and generous partnerships.

Rodriguez's advice to other entrepreneurs is to find mentors and role models who can serve as sources of inspiration as you pursue your dreams.

"That type of like-minded network can help you in so many ways, but you have to be a little gritty, able to overcome obstacles and bounce back when things don't go your way," Rodriguez said. "Don't be afraid to make that left turn when everyone else is making a right. That's what will set you apart from the rest!"

 

Dauntless Clothing
Business: Clothing line

Paula Maldonado, a young Colombian American pioneer, founded Dauntless in 2017. She has always been an avid supporter of environmental and social causes and an advocate for innovative design principles. Maldonado's belief that the fashion industry "lacked responsibility around fair trade standards, sourcing of materials or climate impact" set her on her mission to create an apparel brand dedicated to change, sustainability and honesty.

These tenets were not the only thing driving Maldonado's mission. The founder added that she also wanted Dauntless to be employed solely by women and focused on supporting women's empowerment and equal pay.

"I decided that my mission would be to bring conscious apparel to fashion-forward consumers and change their perception of what sustainable fashion looked like and what it meant," she said.

Dauntless' success can be traced back to hard work by a 100% women-run business.

Most recently, Dauntless was chosen for the all-in-one shopping app Klarna's Small Business Impact Initiative, which gained more visibility and support as a valued brand in the industry. Castillo noted, "The Klarna Small Business Impact Initiative also awarded our team funding towards media exposure in an effort to help us recover from the pandemic."

When asked about leading by example and paving the way for younger Latinx entrepreneurs, she said, "Success has no gender or race. Remove that stigma from your beliefs and your brain. Believe in what you are doing and look around for opportunities that can help you grow your business. You will be surprised by the number of people and companies that believe in women entrepreneurs and women in business. Don't doubt yourself!"

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Lisa Ling regrets making comment about Monica Lewinsky on 'The View': 'My heart sunk'

Lisa Ling regrets making comment about Monica Lewinsky on 'The View': 'My heart sunk'

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(NEW YORK) -- On the latest episode of the "Behind The Table" podcast, former co-host of "The View" Lisa Ling and current co-host Sara Haines spoke candidly about their biggest regrets while co-hosting the show and how they learned to speak openly at the Hot Topics table.

Haines was a co-host of "The View" from 2016 to 2018, for seasons 20 and 21. She left to co-host ABC News' "GMA 3: Strahan, Sara & Keke," and returned to "The View" panel again in 2020, for season 24.

On the podcast, Haines said she is a "huge fan" of Ling and always admired her time on the Emmy award-winning daytime talk show and as a "hardcore" journalist.

Ling's career began at age 21, when she covered the civil war in Afghanistan as a correspondent on Channel One News. In 1999, at 26, she became a co-host of "The View" and got to work alongside show creator Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira and Star Jones. She was one of the youngest co-hosts on the show.

In December of 2002, Ling decided to leave the show to further pursue her journalism career as a correspondent for National Geographic's Explorer. She went on to become an award-winning journalist reporting hard-hitting stories from numerous countries.

"What you do is emotional at times, but you just are so immersive and the stories you tell are so powerful," Haines said of Ling's impressive journalism career.

Ling sat at the Hot Topics table for three years before becoming a field correspondent at "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and pursuing her journalism career.

Though Ling called "The View" a "tangent" in her career, she said being on that table is how she found her voice, and her time there was "instrumental in helping me to get to where I am today."

But that's not to say she hasn't had to grapple with some regretful remarks she made on the show.

One evening in December 2001, Ling bumped into Monica Lewinsky, who had a relationship with former President Bill Clinton during her time as a White House intern working in the office of the chief of staff, Leon Panetta. The two spoke about Lewinsky's college tour, and Ling said that she told her about how disappointed she was that the questions being asked of her weren't more intellectual.

On Dec. 19, 2001, one of "The View" co-hosts asked Ling about her night. She told viewers about her conversation with Lewinsky and commented that she doesn't know what's intellectual about being on your knees.

"My heart sunk," Ling told Haines. "It was so not me to say something like that about someone who had kind of confided in me about something personal that she had experienced."

"I felt deflated and sad and hurt," she continued. "It was, it was a horrible, horrible moment where I sacrificed my own character right for that laugh."

Ling said that soon after her comment, she "profusely apologized" to Lewinsky and years later had the opportunity to interact with her even more. While she said Lewinsky was "gracious and forgiving," she also "wasn't afraid" to tell her how hurt she was by Ling's comment.

Haines related to Ling's story and looked back on comments she made about Taylor Swift after her "Reputation" album was released in 2017.

After she watched Swift's "Miss Americana" documentary, Haines said she "recognized" that she was a part of "a media problem" with Swift and was upset by the realization.

"I had made jokes before about how many boyfriends she'd had or writing a song about them," Haines said. "They actually were all innocently motivated. I wasn't going for a laugh."

Now, Haines said she realized she was a part of the conversations that hurt Swift.

"I private messaged her on Instagram and kind of communicated what I had done, what I saw in the documentary and that I hoped I was a part of the stronger narrative from that point on in defending what someone might feel like in those moments." Haines said it was "no surprise" that she didn't hear back from Swift, but she "needed to let her know that I was sorry."

Prior to making regrettable comments on "The View," Ling told Haines that she had to overcome the Asian etiquettes she learned growing up.

Ling said she "was taught that you have to be respectful of your elders," but one thing that's "imperative on 'The View' is you have to fight for space. You have to fight for time. You have to fight to get a word in edgewise."

Sitting alongside Walters, Behar, Vieira and Jones," Ling felt it was "mortifying" to speak up "because culturally, I would always wait until they said their piece and then I would offer my thoughts or my insights."

While Ling said it felt like a "fight every day just to express an opinion," she wouldn't be able to do what she can now had it not been fro those three years at "The View."

In the third episode of "Behind The Table," Ling and Haines discuss the challenges they faced on the show, fond memories of Barbara Walters. Ling also looks back on her decision to leave "The View" and Haines reflects on her early days guest co-hosting the show and her decision to come back on the panel after leaving in 2018.

"'The View' has become a real force. It's an important outlet and it's smart. It can be irreverent. It can be silly. It can be funny," Ling told Haines on the podcast. "It is comprised of smart women expressing their feelings and their opinions about things that are happening in this country and in the world."
 

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