09 September 2020

BuzzFeed News: “Facebook Employee Leaks show Betrayal by Company Leadership”

On June 1, the day of the walkout, about 45% of employees said they agreed with the statement that Facebook was making the world better — down about 25 percentage points from the week before. That same day, Facebook’s internal surveys showed that around 44% of employees were confident in “Facebook leadership leading the company in the right direction” — a 30 percentage point drop from May 25. Responses to that question have stayed around that lower mark as of earlier this month, according to data seen by BuzzFeed News.

This ongoing contention and erosion of Facebook’s culture has infuriated Zuckerberg. In a June 11 live Q&A with employees, he pointedly addressed it.

I’ve been very worried about … the level of disrespect and, in some cases, of vitriol that a lot of people in our internal community are directing towards each other as part of these debates, he said. If you're bullying your fellow colleagues into taking a position on something, then we will fire you.

Ryan Mac & Craig Silverman

Speaking of Facebook and its toxic consequences for public life in several countries, this has caused growing discontent inside the company as well. There have been a number of internal leaks reported in the press during these past months, a virtual walkout at the beginning of June, a couple of public resignations. The reaction from the management appears quite harsh, with several people being fired over the same period.

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at a developers conference in San Jose
Zuckerberg speaking at a developers conference in San Jose, California, in April 2019. Kyodo News / Getty Images

My reaction was… well… too little, too late! Are we supposed to applaud these people for suddenly finding a moral backbone when Facebook’s negative side-effects were well known for years and have not improved one bit?! And keep in mind these are a mere handful of resignations in a company of tens of thousands employees. The rest may be vocally protesting internally, but as long as they are still working at Facebook they are contributing to and benefiting from the company’s damaging behavior and lack of accountability.

In his note, Abramov, who’s worked at the social network for four years, compared Facebook to a nuclear power plant. Facebook, unlike traditional media sources, can generate “social energy” at a scale never seen before, he said.

But even getting small details wrong can lead to disastrous consequences, he wrote. Social media has enough power to damage the fabric of our society. If you think that’s an overstatement, you aren’t paying attention.

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