Hello, everyone, this is a note about Facebook's internal Workplace system, posted December 9, 2020. Friday will be my last day at Facebook. It is a sad day to be leaving. It is hard to believe that I will ever get a job like this. (1) I believe that Facebook has a net negative impact on Western politics (2) I don't think leadership is making a genuine effort to fix it (3) I don't think I can significantly improve the situation by staying.
This is a Facebook badge posting. It refers to the laminate badge employees receive when they join the company. This badge swipes them into Facebook buildings or when everyone goes into the office. It also grants access to the Zuckerberg world. It is a membership in a fellowship, once proud of its members but now has mixed feelings. Employees often leave Facebook with a badge post. This is often accompanied by a photograph of the badge.
Badge posts are a way to say goodbye to a company and give the leaving employee a memorable work experience and a larger bank account. They are filled with optimism about their next adventure. Others are enslaved by the same tortured letters as the one above. Many of these people joined Facebook because they were enthusiastic about its mission to connect the globe. Some of those who joined Facebook more recently were there to help Facebook solve its safety and speech problems. Their experience in the trenches made them frustrated. Facebook's harm was often revealed by researchers, often to large sections of its user base. Although many of these problems appeared almost impossible to solve, employees offered possible solutions. Some people eventually gave up on their attempts.
We know that we are exposing users to integrity risks. Facebook Badge Post 2020
The badge post I cited above was among hundreds of documents I called The Facebook Papers. These disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission were provided in redacted form to Congress by Frances Haugens, whistleblower Frances Haugens' legal counsel. The redacted versions that Congress received were reviewed by a consortium of news agencies, including WIRED. The corpus gives a detailed view of how Facebook can cause harm. It is basically a report card about the company's attempts to police itself. This includes failing grades. The people responsible for most of these documents attracted me, as they diligently compiled the research that shows how well the company understood the damage it had caused. Many of these researchers have since left. You can best understand their motivations by looking at the badge posts that they left behind.
I quoted the author of the post above as he was a well-respected researcher on Facebook, who specializes in misinformation and political content. I reached out to him via a mutual friend but he did not respond to my request to talk. I have removed his name from the original document that I saw and will respect his privacy. Many Facebook employees commented on the post, and some of them gasped at the sight. Further, the researcher concluded that, despite some improvements in 2016, Facebook still had a negative impact on political discourse.
Sophie Zhang, a Facebook whistleblower who was recently exposed, claimed that she had blood on the hands from her time at the company. Although Zhang's post was already reported, her epic 6,600 word memo is still available in the Papers. The majority of badge posts that I have seen are the result of an internal struggle. One former Facebook employee said to me last week that researchers face a moral dilemma. I was amazed at the power of the network to lift people out of poverty. I spoke to transgender individuals who discovered communities of transgender people. You see the positive. You also see the good. I'm not sure how to reconcile both.