Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen created an international media blitz earlier this year when she leaked tens of thousands of damning internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal and US government. Her disclosures so far have prompted public outrage and government investigations — and they’ve directed a spotlight at an increasingly powerful movement of tech workers who have been organizing to hold their companies accountable over ethical concerns ranging from workplace issues to questionable business practices.
These employees — a mix of public whistleblowers and internal activists — often risk their careers and reputations to alert the public to problematic behavior at the companies they worked for. Some of them are blue-collar workers who take even greater risks to speak out because they have less financial and professional security than corporate employees. But they keep coming forward, as more disillusioned tech workers become convinced they have the unique insights that will force powerful tech giants to face public accountability for their missteps.
To understand why these workers spoke up — and how that impacted their own lives and the world since they did — Recode interviewed almost a dozen recent whistleblowers and employee activists in tech, from Frances Haugen to Chris Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse manager who is now helping lead a movement to unionize the company’s blue-collar workers.
“A few years ago, it was very rare…