A post on Facebook’s internal message board went up last week titled “We Have a Problem With Political Diversity,” it quickly became a hit inside the social network.
“We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,” Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, wrote in the post, which was obtained by The New York Times. “We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”
More than 100 Facebook employees have joined Amerige since the post went up and have formed an online group called FB’ers for Political Diversity, according to two separate people who viewed the group’s page but were unauthorized to speak publicly. According to Mr. Amerige’s memo, the goal of the initiative is to create a space for ideological diversity within the self-professed left-leaning company.
“These are not fears without cause. Because we tear down posters welcoming Trump supporters. We regularly propose removing Thiel from our board because he supported Trump. We’re quick to suggest firing people who turn out to be misunderstood, and even quicker to conclude our colleagues are bigots. We have made “All Lives Matter” a fireable offense. We put Palmer Luckey through a witch hunt because he paid for anti-Hillary ads. We write each other
ad-hoc feedback in the PSC tool for having “offensive” ideas. We ask HR to investigate those who dare to criticize Islam’s human rights record for creating a “non inclusive environment.” And they called me a transphobe when I called out our corporate art for being politically radical.”
Other Facebook employees have voiced their displeasure with the group, saying its online posts were offensive to minorities. An engineer, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said that several employees had lodged complaints with their managers regarding FB’ers for Political Diversity and had been told that it had not broken any of the company rules. A different employee said the group seemed to be constructive and inclusive of different political viewpoints, according to the New York Times.
The new group represents a tiny percent of Facebook’s more than 25,000 employees, with the majority of the social media giant’s workforce being loyal to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and rarely challenging Facebook’s standing policies.
The past two years haven’t been great for Facebook, with Russians spreading misinformation on the platform and the mishandling of users’ data. The social media company has also been accused of suppressing conservative speech by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and President Trump, just to name a few. Earlier this month, in a move that only backed up the company’s anti-conservative bias, Facebook also permanently banned Alex Jones from using the site, after having removed four of Jones’ InfoWars business pages.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg is due to testify at a Senate hearing about social media manipulations in elections next week. A team helping Sandberg prepare for the hearing next Wednesday has stressed for the COO to prepare for questions being raised over Facebook’s biases, according to two people involved in the preparations.
On Tuesday, President Trump stressed that Twitter, Google and Facebook were all social media platforms that are “treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It’s not fair to large portions of the population.”
“Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people and I think that’s a very serious thing and it’s a very serious charge,” Trump told reporters after a meeting with the president of FIFA. “They better be careful because they can’t do that to people.”
Zuckerberg and Sandberg have both donated to Democratic politicians, and support such issues as immigration reform. With Facebook being viewed as a predominantly liberal company, the social network has at times struggled integrating conservatives into positions of leadership.
The founder of Oculus, (a company that makes virtual reality goggles that Facebook acquired), Palmer Luckey was pressured to leave the company after a hit piece from Daily Beast revealed his involvement and funding of a pro-Trump meme group called Nimble America. In Silicon Valley at the time, very few people showed their public support for then candidate Trump. Another outspoken supporter of Trump and libertarian, Peter Thiel, has recently faced calls for his resignation from Facebook’s board. Thiel has called Silicon Valley “a one party state” and has expressed the lack of a conservative presence within the tech industry.
Zuckerberg publicly defended Thiel, saying he valued Thiel and the importance of maintaining diversity on the board. During an appearance before Congress this year, Zuckerberg responded to a question about the company’s anti-conservative bias by stating that he wanted Facebook to “be a platform for all ideas.”
Facebook announced this past May that former Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, would be leading an inquiry into the allegations of Facebook’s anti-conservative bias.
Some employees argue, if tech companies are willing to adjust their workplaces to make underrepresented groups more welcome, they should extend the same regard to those who do not fit the liberal-leaning Silicon Valley mold, according to the New York Times.
On a personal website belonging to Amerige, he states that he followed all philosophical principals that had been laid out by writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, reports NYT.
Amerige posted the 527-word memo about political diversity at Facebook on August 20th.
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