By Arré Bench Sep. 10, 2020
In the latest blow to Facebook’s reputation as a progressive, inclusive company, one of its engineers, Ashok Chandwaney, announced he was quitting the company due to it “profiting off hate”. In his 1,300-word missive, Chandwaney wrote that “Facebook is choosing to be on the wrong side of history.”
Facebook’s reputation as the friendly, likeable social network has taken quite the nosedive from the early days of sending your friends virtual pokes. The social media giant’s role in influencing the US election in 2016 was well-documented, and more recently, their lax approach to policing hateful content has been critically examined in a series of exposes by The Wall Street Journal. Now, in the latest blow to its reputation as a progressive, inclusive company, one of its engineers, Ashok Chandwaney, announced he was quitting the company due to Facebook “profiting off hate”.
Facebook Engineer, 28, Quits, Says Company Profiting Off Hate https://t.co/c1Ev5DUvgv
— Divya Spandana/Ramya (@divyaspandana) September 9, 2020
Chandwaney, who quit Facebook on Tuesday, 8 September, announced his decision in a post on the company’s internal messaging board. The 1,300-word missive was then accessed by The Washington Post and published. In it, Chandwaney writes, “It is clear to me that despite the best efforts of many of us who work here, and outside advocates like Color Of Change, Facebook is choosing to be on the wrong side of history.” He also stated that Facebook was not interested in aggressively pursuing strategies to remove hate from the platform, despite pressure from civil society, as well as Facebook’s employees, consultants, and customers.
We stand with @Facebook employees like Ashok Chandwaney, who quit bc its leadership fails to address hate and misinformation. FB has made it clear that their only priority is profit, even at the expense of harm and violence against communities of color. https://t.co/wNR4sf4A8q
— ColorOfChange (@ColorOfChange) September 8, 2020
Chandwaney’s message comes at a time when many users are questioning Facebook’s commitment to removing hateful content. However, Facebook’s spokesperson Liz Bourgeois denied the claims Chandwaney made, saying, “We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and are in deep partnership with outside experts to review and update our policies.” At the same time as Chandwaney quit the company, a group of over 40 non-governmental organisations wrote to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to place Facebook India’s Public Policy Head Ankhi Das on administrative leave to prevent any interference in the audit into Facebook’s role in amplifying hateful messages in India.
— ET Infotech News (@ETInfotechNews) September 10, 2020
Clearly, the unpopular redesign of the website is far from the most insidious thing going on at Facebook at this moment.