Here at Activist Mommy, we are no stranger to Facebook bias.
While we’ve had good experiences with employees in the company who have worked hard to help us make sense out of the countless times we’ve been censored, blocked, or thrown in Facebook jail, and the company has apologized on the occasions they say they made a mistake in removing our posts, it still seems like we’re engaged in a never-ending battle with their community standards, while vulgar and violent left-leaning sites prosper.
It is no secret that Facebook algorithms and community standards seem to be set up against conservatives, Christians, and alternative voices, so much so, that Washington DC has begun stepping in, and Mark Zuckerberg famously testified before Congress earlier this year (although he swore up and down there was no bias in the way his company operates).
Meanwhile, at Facebook headquarters, there is dissent in the ranks: several Facebook employees are now joining together to represent the minority of non-progressives at the company who believe there is a problem.
Late last month, the New York Times (to their credit) published a memo written by a man now being called “The James Damore of Facebook” for pointedly addressing the lack of political diversity in the company
Senior Facebook engineer Brian Amerige writes in his memo:
We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views. 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. We throw labels that end in *obe and *ist at each other, attacking each other’s character rather than their ideas.
We do this so consistently that employees are afraid to say anything when they disagree with what’s around them politically. HR has told me that this is not a rare concern, and I’ve personally gotten over a hundred messages to that effect. Your colleagues are afraid because they know that they — not their ideas — will be attacked. They know that all the talk of “openness to different perspectives” does not apply to causes of “social justice,” immigration, “diversity”, and “equality.” On this issues, you can either keep quiet or sacrifice your reputation and career.
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.
He then goes on to explain that this issue is seriously inhibiting Facebook’s ability to serve its users and also remain viable for the long-term:
This is not okay. Not just for our internal culture, but for our own viability as a company. While the problem isn’t unique to us, 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. We are blind to and dismissive of what people beyond our walls (let alone even within our walls) think about complex issues that matter. I’ve been here for nearly 6.5 years and this has gotten exponentially worse in the last 2.
His first proposed solution is a group he’s formed (fittingly, on Facebook) for anyone else in the company who shares his feelings:
I don’t know how to fix this problem on my own. What I do know is that these issues can’t be fixed if we continue to be isolated and silent. So that’s what this group is for: (a) to be a space where you can talk about these issues without fear of the mob, and in the process (b) to talk about how we can fix this.
If you’re interested in helping make Facebook a company that’s more tolerant and active-minded about different political and ideological perspectives, join FB’ers for Political Diversity.
There’s only going to be one core rule in the group, and it’s that if you attack a person’s character, rather than their ideas, you will be banned. Let’s see where this goes.
This is great to see!
There’s no denying that Facebook is a powerful information tool that can be used for the benefit of people of all stripes, and that Facebook is not only betraying its users, but hurting its own company by trying to walk the line between publisher and platform.
Let’s pray for Facebook leadership that they can make decisions in the coming months that would benefit all Facebook users!