Meet the tech billionaire and organisation behind Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Oct 21, 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 – 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 post – an organisation that is backing the Facebook whistle-blower 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 philanthropic organisation Luminate is handling Haugen’s press and government relations in Europe, and his foundation, last year, gave $150 000 (about R2 175 450) to Whistleblower Aid, the non-profit organization 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 whistle-blowing in the tech industry, in early February 2021, months before Haugen came forward.

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