A Facebook employee on Tuesday quit the company saying that he no longer wanted to work for an organisation that was “profiting off hate”, reported The Washington Post. Ashok Chandwaney was a software engineer at the social media giant.
“It is clear to me that despite the best efforts of many of us who work here, and outside advocates like Color Of Change, Facebook is choosing to be on the wrong side of history,” wrote Chandwaney in a letter on the company’s internal message board, which The Washington Post has accessed.
In the message, Chandwaney, who identifies as a non-gender binary and prefers pronouns such as they or them, cited various news reports to show how the absence of five core values promoted by the company eroded faith in the organisation. Chandwaney said the company lacked “willingness, commitment, urgency and transparency” to act on the recommendations of a civil rights group and wondered if it was a public relations deflection strategy.
The employee cited various reports to support his statement, including one by BuzzFeed News where the media organisation claimed that a militia page advocating bringing weapons to a meeting was flagged at least 455 times but was cleared by moderators who deemed it “non-violating”.
“Violent hate groups and far-right militias are out there, and they’re using Facebook to recruit and radicalize people who will go on to commit violent hate crimes.” Chandwaney said. “So where’s the metric about this?”
Chandwaney claimed Facebook put out a response to hate crimes using a hashtag ‘stop hate for profit’ but did not address this question. “Feedback is supposed to be a gift, yet despite the enormous feedback [and multiple lawsuits, for discriminatory ads] very little action has been taken,” Chandwaney alleged.
Chandwaney further accused the company of pretending to be open and cited reports to state that many far-right organisations got a “free pass on misinformation policies” and that Facebook responded by removing strikes so that they are not banned.
“It seems that Facebook hasn’t found the business value to be had in aggressively pursuing the existing credible strategies to remove hate from the platform – despite pressure from civil society, our own employees, our own consultants, and our own customers via the boycott,” Chandwaney wrote in the message.
Facebook refuted the allegations and said that it has framed policies and was taking measures to counter hate speech and misinformation, according to The Washington Post. “We don’t benefit from hate,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said. “We invest billions of dollars each year to keep 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 go after QAnon, grew our fact-checking programme, and removed millions of posts tied to hate organizations – over 96% of which we found before anyone reported them to us.”
Facebook’s policies on hate speech and misinformation has faced flak and many of its employees have protested against them, demanding that company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, who holds majority of the share, change his stance.
Further, Facebook was accused to have had an important role in the 2016 election of United States President Donald Trump, by boosting false news reports and Russian disinformation campaign while allowing the president’s campaign to deliver targeted messages to voters.
On August 14, an article published in The Wall Street Journal alleged a nexus between Facebook and the Bharatiya Janata Party and claimed that the social media platform was opposed to the idea of removing incendiary posts by the party leaders, warning that this could hurt the company’s “commercial interests” in India. Company’s public policy director for India head Ankhi Das had also not revealed that Facebook had deleted fake news pages connected to the saffron party, according to the report.
Facebook has also faced criticism for not fact-checking political ads. It had cited freedom of expression as the reason for letting politicians like Trump post false information about voting. However, the company had on September 3 announced several steps to reduce “the risks of post-election confusion”, including not accepting new political advertisements a week before the November 3 presidential polls in the United States.