Washington – Facebook programmer Ashok Chandwaney has watched with growing unease because the platform has become a haven for hate. Tuesday morning, it came time to require a stand.
“I’m quitting because I can not stomach contributing to an organisation that’s profiting off hate within the US and globally,” wrote Chandwaney during a letter posted on Facebook’s internal employee network shortly after 8 a.m. Pacific. The nearly 1,300-word document was detailed, covered links to bolster its claims and scathing in its conclusions.
“We don’t enjoy hate,” Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois said. “We invest billions of dollars annually to stay our community safe and are in deep partnership with outside experts to review and update our policies. This summer we launched an industry leading policy to travel after QAnon, grew our fact-checking program, and removed many posts tied to hate organizations – over 96% of which we found before anyone reported them to us.”
Tuesday’s resignation made Chandwaney the newest Facebook employee to quit amid rising discontent within a corporation that, just a couple of years ago, was seen as a perfect employer – exciting, deep-pocketed and, as Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg frequently said, animated by the seemingly benevolent mission of connecting the planet together. Worker frustration with Facebook’s policies on hate and racist speech has risen as protests against racial injustice have swept the country, with thousands of employees demanding that Zuckerberg, who controls a majority of Facebook’s voting shares, change his stances.
While Facebook doesn’t disclose the amount of engineers it employs, engineers are a number of the foremost sought-after employees and command a number of the very best salaries at the corporate , consistent with people conversant in Facebook.
Chandwaney, 28, who is gender non-binary and uses they and them as pronouns, described Facebook as a genial, supportive workplace but said they realized over time that the company’s leadership was focused on profits over promoting social good. the corporate has done insufficient to combat the increase on the platform of racism, disinformation and incitements to violence, Chandwaney said.
Chandwaney specifically cited the company’s role in fueling genocide in Myanmar and, more recently, violence in Kenosha, Wis. Facebook did not remove a militia group’s event encouraging people to bring guns to protests before fatal shootings last month despite many complaints, in what Zuckerberg called an “operational mistake.”
The letter, which Chandwaney elaborated on during an interview with The Washington Post, also cited Facebook’s refusal to get rid of President Donald Trump’s post from May saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and dismissed the company’s response to civil rights issues as mere public-relations maneuvers. Chandwaney hoped that Facebook would take all of the recommendations from its civil rights audit in July, which concluded that the company’s policy actions “were an incredible setback,” and also said that it might be more aware of the stress of the advertising boycott organized under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit.
“There are numerous comments that are p.r. fluff instead of substantive,” Chandwaney said within the interview during which they also criticized the company’s policy that permits politicians to form false claims in campaign ads without worrying of getting them fact-checked. “Allowing lies in election ads is pretty damaging, especially within the current political moment we’re in.”
Facebook has softened a number of its stances in response to outcries by employees and civil rights group, adding labels to misleading posts from politicians and directing readers to government websites with accurate information about voting and therefore the coronavirus pandemic – though they are doing not take a stance on whether the fabric is true or false. Critics have called the labels so neutral on be misleading.
Chandwaney, who is of South Asian descent and who is predicated within the Seattle area, cited the work of civil rights group Color of Change, a frequent critic of Facebook, within the resignation letter. “It is obvious to me that despite the simplest efforts of the many folks who work here, and out of doors advocates like Color Of Change, Facebook is selecting to get on the incorrect side of history,” they wrote.
That group’s executive , Rashad Robinson, who said he had met Chandwaney quite a year earlier, said they were among many of us of color within the corporate who have complained about its direction on similar issues.
“We need more Facebook employees to talk out. we’d like more Facebook people to push harder,” Robinson said. “I’ve just come to understand how all of those moments have hit them, what proportion they do not trust Mark Zuckerberg.”
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, members of Facebook’s Black employee resource group, Black@, met with Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to complain about the company’s inaction on Trump’s May post, while a Black employee has brought a lawsuit charging racial bias in its hiring practices. The lawsuit arises from broader frustrations, which were noted within the civil rights audit, that the foremost important decision-making at the corporate around hate speech are made by a gaggle that doesn’t include people that would be most suffering from that speech.
The mood within Facebook soured nearly four years ago because it became clear that Facebook played a key role within the 2016 election of President Trump, by amplifying false news reports and Russian disinformation while allowing his campaign to deliver targeted messages to swing voters. Unrest has only grown since then among the company’s quite 52,000 employees.
For Chandwaney, whose work as a programmer at the corporate included stints designing advertising tools and internal training programs, one turning point came when Facebook’s most senior Republican, the D.C.-based policy chief Joel Kaplan, appeared as a clear , on-screen supporter of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Senate hearing in October 2018.
Kaplan defended his support of Kavanaugh, an in depth friend, but the affiliation rankled many at Facebook at a time when the nominee was battling allegations of sexual abuse and other misconduct during his youth. Kaplan has been a robust internal advocate that the platform remain “politically neutral,” but former employees have charged that in practice his approach has meant favoring Republicans and Trump.
The mood internally has worsened amid a gentle beat of revelations about the role Facebook and its photo-sharing subsidiary, Instagram, have played in spreading foreign disinformation, anti-Semitism and white nationalism, while allowing the QAnon conspiracy theory and violent extremists like the “Boogaloo Bois” to grow before recent crackdowns.
When Zuckerberg declined to require down Trump’s “looting shooting” post, some employees, who are performing from home, staged a virtual walkout. a couple also quit, and thousands of others demanded that the corporate change its policies on hate speech and not fact-checking politicians, consistent with an employee poll obtained by The Post. On the company’s internal network, called Workplace, employees compared the company’s dynamic with the president to an “abusive relationship” with a romantic partner.
“What’s the purpose of building a principle if we’re getting to move the goal posts whenever Trump escalates his behavior?” programmer Timothy Aveni asked on the interior message board in May. He subsequently quit.
The company’s approach to civil rights also gave rise to a boycott by major advertisers. Color of Change said that it didn’t have the present number of companies still participating within the boycott, which had been involved July, but that variety of huge advertisers, including Verizon and Merck, still pause their advertising.
The Washington Post