In the United States, it makes a difference depending what part of the country you’re in. People often feel that businesses and people from other regions are foreign to them and that there are not really many shared values. I would say that there is a practice of anonymous whistleblowing in the United States. I was trying to figure out where it comes from because I don’t really think it’s from any practice in the law. Employees can move in and out of employment very easily in the United States compared to Europe, probably a little bit more like the UK and less like the EU.
As a result people use anonymous ways of complaining or whistleblowing, whether it means going to an agency or using a hotline. The most common channel now is social media whistleblowing on companies for employees who probably haven’t invested much time in a particular job that they’re in.
Within businesses employees imagine they can stay anonymous to start with, and that’s why they’ve gone through the whistleblowing process rather than just complained to human resources or to their supervisor.
One example is Frances Haugen, the woman who worked at Facebook, now called Metaverse. She was whistleblowing initially anonymously. She went to the SEC, the Security Exchange Commission, and then the Washington Post ran a series of articles and didn’t say that she was one of their sources. Then it expanded to a testimony in front of Congress. Obviously that’s not very anonymous. What she reported is very dear to most Americans, involving political misinformation, hate speech, teenage mental health, human trafficking, ethnic violence etc.
Facebook has had such a huge impact on American culture that what she had to say was so profound. To hear an insider talking about that kind of thing, there’s no way that it would stay anonymous. A lot of times it starts off anonymous, but when the complaint is made people try to figure out who the reporter is, what other information is known and who would actually have that information, and what job must they have had?
In the United States known whistleblowers do face blacklisting. It’s hard to imagine that any company would want to hire Ms Haugen as an employee.