FP StaffSep 09, 2020 13:18:41 IST
Facebook software engineer Ashok Chandwaney publicly resigned from the social media company on Tuesday with a scathing letter accusing the social media giant of "profiting off hate" and criticising it for "choosing to be on the wrong side of history."
In a letter posted on the company’s internal message board, accessed by The Washington Post, the former Facebook engineer wrote: "I'm quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organisation that is profiting off hate in the US and globally."
Chandwaney asserted there was an “absence” of the company’s “five core values” — Be Bold, Focus on Impact, Move Fast, Be Open and Build Social Value — in its approach to hate speech pointing to Facebook’s handling of issues like the recent violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Myanmar genocide.
The former employee also highlighted the company’s decision to leave up President Donald Trump’s post that said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
"Every day 'the looting starts, the shooting starts' stays up is a day that we choose to minimise regulatory risk at the expense of the safety of Black, Indigenous, and people of [colour]," wrote Chandwaney.
"[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," the software engineer added.
“There have been so many comments that have been PR fluff rather than substantive,” Chandwaney said in the interview with The Washington Post which they also criticized the company’s policy that allows politicians to make false claims in campaign ads without fear of having them fact-checked. “Allowing lies in election ads is pretty damaging, especially in the current political moment we’re in.”
"What I wish I saw were a serious prioritisation 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 the former Facebook employee. "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..."
"I do assume – as required by policy – best intent of all my coworkers including leadership," Chandwaney wrote while concluding the letter. "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 organised on platform."
Chandwaney’s resignation after working for five and a half years at the company comes after the public resignation of two employees in June over Facebook’s handling of Trump’s looting comments, as well as a virtual walkout staged by employees over the comments.
As per The Associated Press, engineers Timothy Aveni and Owen Anderson left Facebook in early June amidst company-wide protests over its failure to act on Trump's inflammatory posts.
In a statement to Forbes, Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois said the company doesn’t “benefit from hate” and “invest[s] billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and are in deep partnership with outside experts to review and update our policies.”
But this isn't the first time that the social media company has found itself in hot water. Whether India, United States, Sri Lanka or the Philippines, Facebook's handling of controversial political posts and advertisements has left the social media company facing scathing criticism, seen sponsors leave in droves, fomented internal revolts, and increased scrutiny from regulators.
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