Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
A Meta staffer has publicly complained the social media giant placed her under investigation for possible violations of its employee policy after she raised concerns internally about the alleged censorship of pro-Palestinian views by the company.
In a video posted to her Instagram page, a New York-based data scientist said that she had garnered about 450 signatures in half a day from fellow staffers for a letter she published asking management for acknowledgment of Palestinian lives lost and support for Palestinian colleagues in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.
The employee had also demanded “transparent action for internal and external censorship” on its platforms in the letter, she said, after Meta had faced criticism from some politicians and human rights groups that its content moderation systems had allegedly been suppressing pro-Palestine voices. “Internally, we have been trying to raise these concerns and these alarms,” she said in an Instagram video posted under the handle Saimaday. Meta owns Instagram and Facebook.
The staffer said her letter had been swiftly removed from the internal forum by the company, which has rules designed to keep the discussion of politics out of the workplace. It promptly locked her out of its internal systems and told her that she was under investigation, she said.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the company was “not commenting on this personnel matter”.
He added: “Last year we updated our employee expectations to provide direction around what is appropriate for our people in the workplace, so that we can reduce distractions while maintaining an environment that is respectful and inclusive and where people can do their best work.
“We’re doing this to ensure that internal discussions remain healthy and productive. This comes with the trade-off that we’ll no longer allow for every type of expression at work, but we think this is the right thing to do for the long-term health of our internal community.”
The Meta staffer could not be reached by the Financial Times.
The public showdown is just one example of what several insiders said has been rising tension within Meta as staffers — particularly those with pro-Palestinian views — feel unable to express how they feel about the conflict for fear of retaliation. It is sending employee morale to new lows after management caused upheaval by carrying out multiple rounds of lay-offs over the past 18 months, one senior staffer said.
“It has become exhausting to work at Meta and have to deal with the platform issues every day,” the senior staffer said. “A lot of people who were already becoming disillusioned with the company after the cuts are feeling this is another blow for them. Working at Facebook [is] no longer about having ideals.”
The company has struggled with how to police swaths of controversial content related to the conflict, including misinformation, hate speech and graphic depictions of war.
Previously, Meta allowed staffers to freely share their opinions on its internal forum, known as Workplace, however, on occasions, heated or revealing communications were leaked to the media. At the end of 2022. the company brought in a set of policies explicitly banning discussions around topics including politics, abortion and gun ownership.
Speaking to the camera as she walked into Meta’s New York office, the employee who made the complaint said in her video that she had told a human resources staffer: “So many of us feel unseen, unheard and unsafe here, and what are we to do? Isn’t it within our rights under federal law to organise against working conditions?’”
Following the October 7 Hamas attacks, Human Rights Watch published a report accusing Meta of “systemic online censorship of Palestine content”, including posts about human rights abuses.
Politicians, including Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren, have written to Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after reports that the company was disproportionately suppressing comments in Palestinian territories.
Meta has said the Human Rights Watch report was “misleading”, noting it only cited about 1,000 examples of incorrect enforcement, adding that its automated systems had stricter standards for addressing comments in Palestinian territories in response to a surge in “hateful” comments in the region.
“We want to reiterate that our policies are designed to give everyone a voice while keeping people safe on our apps,” the company said in an October post. “We apply these policies regardless of who is posting or their personal beliefs, and it is never our intention to suppress a particular community or point of view.”
Credit: Source link