Facebook Tightens Rules for Employee Discussions in Internal Groups
By Jeff Horwitz
Facebook Inc. will train and require employees to moderate
internal discussion groups devoted to politics, social causes and
other topics unrelated to company business as part of its effort to
curb internal debate around divisive issues.
The company said Wednesday that the move -- taken amid a
contentious U.S. election and ongoing social justice protests
around the country -- will be accompanied by restrictions in the
ways employees can express their opinions on controversial social
topics on Facebook's internal Workplace communications tool and a
tightening of company policy on "respectful workplace
Facebook cast the changes as addressing employee concerns that
its internal discussions had become too political. The company has
faced increasingly frequent leaks in recent months as well as a
rash of people posting harsh criticism or unflattering information
through the internal tool.
"What we have heard from our employees is that they want the
option to join debates on social and political issues rather than
see them unexpectedly in their work feed," Facebook spokesman Joe
Osborne said. "So we're updating our policies and work tools to
make sure our people have both voice, and choice."
One limitation will be a requirement that employees use either a
photo of themselves or their initials as their profile picture,
putting an end to some employees' practice of using the image to
express solidarity with causes such as Black Lives Matter.
Employees at Facebook have long had the ability to set their
profile photo with an image expressing support for a particular
cause. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said at a meeting last week
that part of Facebook's intention with the new measures is to
ensure that Black employees and other underrepresented communities
don't face a hostile environment when they come to work. Facebook
has voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement, even as it
has drawn ire from some activists for not doing enough to curb what
they say is hate speech and incitements to violence on its
Employees will still be able to express themselves through
frames around their photos, though options will be limited to a set
of company-approved images. Black Lives Matter will be an option,
the company said, but Blue Lives Matter won't be.
Facebook sells its workplace communications system as a service
to other companies including Starbucks Corp. and Walmart Inc. The
social-media giant said the changes it's making internally won't
affect the way the product is used by other companies, unless they
want to follow in its footsteps.
Facebook also will be tightening its "respectful communications"
policy to expand the company's definition of harassment. The new
rule will prohibit content that could contribute to a hostile work
environment for people of any protected class, or which includes
language that is "insensitive, degrading, or derogatory."
Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 24, 2020 16:35 ET (20:35 GMT)
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