Facebook engineer quits, says company is ‘profiting off hate’

A Facebook engineer has published a scathing resignation letter accusing the company of “profiting off hate” and criticising it for “choosing to be on the wrong side of history.” 

“I’m quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organization that is profiting off hate in the U.S. and globally,” wrote Ashok Chandwaney in the letter obtained by the Washington Post

Chandwaney, whose pronouns are they, them, and theirs, posted the letter to Facebook’s internal employee network on Tuesday, stating that it was their last day after five and a half years with the company. In it, they systematically detailed how Facebook has failed to uphold its five core values when it comes to addressing hate on the platform. These values are “Be Bold,” “Focus on Impact,” “Move Fast,” “Be Open,” and “Build Social Value.”

“[T]he absence of them in the company’s approach to hate has eroded my faith in this company’s will to remove it from the platform,” wrote Chandwaney. 

“To me being bold means seeing something that’s hard to do but, knowing it’s the right thing to do, rolling up my sleeves, and diving in,” they wrote, noting the common notion that removing hateful content is difficult. “Boldness is not, on the other hand, taking a pass on implementing the recommendations from organized civil rights advocates … as we have done.”

Chandwaney’s letter is full of links citing specific incidents of Facebook’s failures, such as the company obstructing an investigation into genocide in Myanmar and failing to remove an event encouraging people to shoot and kill protesters in Kenosha. He also referred to President Donald Trump’s infamous “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post from May 29, which Facebook has still refused to remove. In contrast, Twitter hid a post from Trump that used the same phrase for “glorifying violence.”

“Every day ‘the looting starts, the shooting starts’ stays up is a day that we choose to minimize regulatory risk at the expense of the safety of Black, Indigenous, and people of color,” wrote Chandwaney.

“I’ve been told repeatedly ‘Facebook moves much faster than {company x}. In my work, moving fast looks like bias to action: when presented with a problem, I execute towards a solution with haste. Sometimes this has meant learning about a bug in a meeting, and fixing it before the meeting is over. The contrast between that and our approach to hate on platform is astonishing.”

Chandwaney expressed such disillusionment with Facebook’s inaction that they considered the company’s civil rights audit may have been nothing more than a PR stunt. The results of the two-year-long, Facebook-commissioned audit were released in July, finding that the company made decisions that were “serious setbacks for civil rights.” Chandwaney also suggested that, despite Facebook’s core values, it is much more concerned with building “business value” than “social value.” Unsurprising, but still disappointing.

“What I wish I saw were a serious prioritization of social good even when there isn’t an immediately obvious business value to it, or when there may be business harm that comes from it,” wrote Chandwaney. “It seems that Facebook hasn’t found the business value to be had in aggressively pursuing the existing credible strategies to remove hate from the platform…”

Chandwaney’s resignation letter concluded that since pressure from Facebook’s employees, consultants, customers, and society at large hasn’t compelled it to act swiftly against hate, the only thing that might would be government intervention. This doesn’t seem likely to happen though, particularly as part of the hate they are objecting to is being posted by the U.S. president.

“I do assume – as required by policy – best intent of all my coworkers including leadership,” wrote Chandwaney. “It’s just, I can’t point to facts that substantiate that assumption when looking at our repeated failures to confront the hate and violence occurring and being organized on platform.”

Mashable has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Chandwaney isn’t the first Facebook employee to resign due to the company’s alleged lack of morality. Engineers Timothy Aveni and Owen Anderson also left Facebook in early June amidst company-wide protests over its failure to act on Trump’s inflammatory posts.

“I cannot keep excusing Facebook’s behavior,” wrote Aveni in a Facebook post, which also specifically referenced Trump’s “looting” statement. “Facebook is providing a platform that enables politicians to radicalize individuals and glorify violence… I’m scared for my country and I’m done trying to justify this.”

source.



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