Free Speech champion Mark Zuckerberg plans to censor his employees

Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently told his employees that the company plans to clamp down discussions on political and social issues on internal message boards, reports Wall Street Journal.

Facebook has been under fire in recent years for its lax approach to fake news content, state-backed disinformation campaigns, and violent content spread via its platforms.

Now, the company’s employees are also speculating whether the world’s biggest social media platform by design increases authoritarian propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech.

Zuckerberg was displeased with the fact that staff discussed social issues at work and has outlined potential steps like establishing rules on where these discussions can pop up on the company’s messenger, making sure those conversations are monitored and moderated.

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The steps will include delineating which parts of the company’s internal messaging platform are acceptable for such discussions, and careful moderation of the discussions when they occur, Mr. Zuckerberg told employees at a company meeting, according to a spokesman. Employees shouldn’t have to confront social issues in their day-to-day work unless they want to, said the CEO.

Specific details of the new policy are still being decided, with more information to come next week, but Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to “explore ways to preserve our culture of openness and debate around” its work, according to a spokesman.

Facebook and its top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, are also facing questions internally from employees over how political content is regulated in its biggest market.

Das opposed applying the company’s hate-speech rules to a politician from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party who had in posts called Muslim traitors.

The company’s employees are raising questions about whether adequate procedures and content regulation practices were being followed by the India team, sources told Reuters.

In June, Facebook said it would ban a “wider category of hateful content” in ads as the embattled social media giant moved to respond to growing protests over its handling of inflammatory posts.

The initiative came after the company faced growing boycott by advertisers joining activists as they seek tougher action on the content they deem to promote discrimination, hatred, or violence.

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The company’s CEO who brands himself as a free-speech hero who “stands for voice and free expression deliberately maneuvers the company’s policies to avoid angering the Trump administration, longtime current and former employees told Bloomberg.

The Workplace software that Facebook employees use to discuss these issues have often been the source of leaks.

“We deeply value expression and open discussion,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the Journal.

“What we’ve 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.”

Zuckerberg reportedly told employees that the reason behind the new rules is avoiding a hostile environment for employees who are Black or members of other underrepresented groups.

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo.


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