Pierre Omidyar is the founder of eBay and a well-known tech billionaire who supports a number of similar initiatives. Photo: File
Pierre Omidyar is the founder of eBay and a well-known tech billionaire who supports a number of similar initiatives. Photo: File

eBay founder and billionaire is financially backing the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Oct 24, 2021

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“We will continue to create a safe environment for and support all those who are focused on tackling these digital threats to democracy and making social media and Big Tech platforms more transparent and accountable. We will directly support efforts that enable a broad public debate about the disclosures and evidence Frances Haugen has brought to light,” stated Luminate in a blog, an organisation that is backing the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen.

Luminate is a global philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. Luminate was founded by The Omidyar Group, established by philanthropists Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Pierre is the founder of eBay and a well-known tech billionaire who supports a number of similar initiatives.

According to recent media reports, Omidyar’s global philanthro pic organisation Luminate is handling Haugen’s press and government relations in Europe, and his foundation last year gave $150,000 (R2.19 million) to Whistleblower Aid, the non-profit organisation that is providing Haugen’s legal representation and advice.

Another prominent tech-world figure in Haugen's camp is a Harvard constitutional law professor and former Democratic presidential candidate, Larry Lessig. According to media reports, he is providing "limited" pro bono legal and communications work.

Omidyar’s own network has also become increasingly involved in agitating against major tech companies. Last year, his advocacy and investment group, Omidyar Network, distributed widely read papers laying out the antitrust cases against Facebook and Google. The group also hosted a series on whistleblowing in the tech industry in early February of this year, months before Haugen came forward.

The blog by Luminate concluded with these words:

“For those who are considering blowing the whistle, we know that it is a difficult, and often dangerous and expensive decision. That’s why we supported tech leader and whistle-blower Ifeoma Ozoma and her many partners in creating The Tech Worker Handbook, a collection of resources for people “who are looking to make more informed decisions about whether to speak out on issues that are in the public interest.

“We are grateful to the brave people who have called out Big Tech for its bad behaviour. They are an important part of creating systemic checks and balances for Big Tech. Because of them, policymakers are taking notice and taking action to rein in their excessive power and restore trust and balance in digital markets.”

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