The Lawfare Podcast: The SEC and the Facebook Papers

By Jen Patja Howell
Thursday, October 28, 2021, 5:01 AM

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, we’re talking about a subject that doesn’t come up much on the Lawfare Podcast: the Securities and Exchange Commission. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has made waves with her congressional testimony and the many damaging news stories being reported about Facebook based on the documents she released. But before these documents became the Facebook Papers, Haugen also handed them to the SEC as part of a whistleblower complaint against the company. So, we thought we should dig into what that actually means. 

What is the likelihood that Haugen’s SEC filings turn into an investigation into the company? Should Facebook be worried? Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic discussed these questions with Jacob Frenkel, who spent years at the SEC and is now the chair of government investigations and securities enforcement at the law firm Dickinson Wright. He explained how to understand the SEC’s role in cases like these, why whistleblowers like Haugen file complaints with the SEC, and why he thinks it’s unlikely that the agency will investigate Facebook based on Haugen’s disclosures.