Facebook Struggles to Balance Civility and Growth


“There are tensions in virtually every product decision we make and we’ve developed a companywide framework called ‘Better Decisions’ to ensure we make our decisions accurately, and that our goals are directly connected to delivering the best possible experiences for people,” said Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman.

These battles have taken a toll on morale. In an employee survey this month, Facebook workers reported feeling less pride in the company compared to previous years. About half felt that Facebook was having a positive impact on the world, down from roughly three-quarters earlier this year, according to a copy of the survey, known as Pulse, which was reviewed by The New York Times. Employees’ “intent to stay” also dropped, as did confidence in leadership.

BuzzFeed News previously reported on the survey results.


Even as Election Day and its aftermath have passed with few incidents, some disillusioned employees have quit, saying they could no longer stomach working for a company whose products they considered harmful. Others have stayed, reasoning they can make more of a difference on the inside. Still others have made the moral calculation that even with its flaws, Facebook is, on balance, doing more good than harm.


“Facebook salaries are among the highest in tech right now, and when you’re walking home with a giant paycheck every two weeks, you have to tell yourself that it’s for a good cause,” said Gregor Hochmuth, a former engineer with Instagram, which Facebook owns, who left in 2014. “Otherwise, your job is truly no different from other industries that wreck the planet and pay their employees exorbitantly to help them forget.”

With most employees working remotely during the pandemic, much of the soul-searching has taken place on Facebook’s internal Workplace network.

In May, during the heat of the Black Lives Matter protests, Mr. Zuckerberg angered many employees when he declined to remove a post by President Trump that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Lawmakers and civil rights groups said the post threatened violence against protesters and called for it to be taken down. But Mr. Zuckerberg said the post did not violate Facebook’s rules.

To signal their dissatisfaction, several employees formed a new Workplace group called “Take Action.” People in the group, which swelled to more than 1,500 members, pointedly changed their profile photos to an image of a raised “Black Lives Matter” fist.


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