A Facebook post titled, “We Have a Problem With Political Diversity,” took off in the social network sometime in August that caught the attention of the public.
The post came from Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, which further said, “We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views.” The New York Times acquired the snippets that also stated, “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.”
Since the post went off, 100 Facebook employees and Mr. Amerige created an online group they call, FB’ers for Political Diversity. According to a memo from Mr. Amerige, the group aims to make diversity in viewpoints within the company.
The group offended a few FB employees with their online posts. One engineer shared, a couple of employees reported complaints to their managers about FB’ers for Political Diversity, but were informed that the group is not violating any company rules.
One more employee said that the group seems to tackle different political viewpoints. When The New York Times tried to reach out to Mr. Amerige, the engineer chose not to give any response.
The movement is a rare occurrence of an organized protest against Facebook with a largely liberal culture. Among the 25,000 employees, it’s clear that the portion of the group is just a fragment of the whole company. In the past, the employees appear to be less inclined in challenging other tech companies’ leadership, while a significant number of FB workers are loyalists to Mark Zuckerberg.
However, the past two years had been tough for Facebook. The company faced a string of crises such as when Russians have strewn misinformation using the platform and when there had been an issue about the misuse of the users’ data. The social network had also received allegations about restraining responses about the conservative speeches from US President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and more others. The most recent political subject happened August when the Social Network blocked the content from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, which critics took as an added evidence that the social network is an anti-conservative bias.
Facebook employees have argued over the measures of assessing which accounts to ban and which to allow. During meetings, workers requested for further guidance on what content to reject and why. Employees in the social network said that the company has allowed too many right-wing groups thrive on the site out of fear of being seen as biased.
The post from Mr. Amerige went off a week before Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, testified at a Senate hearing about the manipulation of social media during elections. According to the New York Times, a team who was helping Sandberg prepare for the conference warned her about questions regarding the social media giant being biased might come up from Republican lawmakers.
On August, President Trump sent a tweet attacking tech companies. In the first tweet, the US President only pointed out to Google, but later in the day also included Twitter and Facebook.
According to President Trump’s tweet, “better be careful because you can’t do that to people.”
“I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population.”
Facebook has been viewed as a liberal company. The New York Times said Zuckerberg and Sandberg donated to Democratic politicians and supported the issues of immigration reform. The company appeared to find it challenging to integrate conservatives as company leaders. For instance, the founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, left the company a few months after rumors implied that he secretly donated to an organization that spread anti-Hillary memes. Additionally, a supporter of President Trump, Peter Thiel, received calls from FB’s board for his resignation.
In the issue of Thiel’s resignation, Mr. Zuckerberg defended Thiel and said he valued him, as well as added it’s essential that diversity remains across the board. When asked in the Congress, and a question about an anti-conservative issue is brought up, Zuckerberg responded, he desires FB to “be a platform for all ideas.”
A few months ago, the social network announced the former Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican, would initiate inquiries regarding allegations of Facebook’s anti-conservative bias. The company’s new employees undergo training on how to respond and converse with respect regarding issues of diversity and politics.
Other tech companies such as Google also experienced activism among employees regarding diversity. Some workers at Silicon Valley companies argue that if they are willing to adjust their workplace to make underrepresented groups feel welcome, the same action must apply for those parties who don’t lean into the liberal Silicon Valley culture.
Mr. Amerige said he follows the principles of writer and philosopher, Ayn Rand. The engineer started working with Facebook since 2012, and on his website, he released a memo about political diversity in the company.
“You can either keep quiet or sacrifice your reputation and career,” Mr. Amerige stated as he talked about the issue of immigration and diversity.
Mr. Amerige proposes that Facebook employees would discuss their political viewpoints in the group. He added, it can help the company host varied political ideas using the platform.
In the memo, he wrote, “We are entrusted by a great part of the world to be impartial and transparent carriers of people’s stories, ideas, and commentary.”
“Congress doesn’t think we can do this. The president doesn’t think we can do this. And like them or not, we deserve that criticism.”