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Facebook introduces new guidelines to curb heated social, political discussions within employees

Facebook is drawing a boundary between employees' political and social leanings getting in the way of their work.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | September 18, 2020 | Updated 13:35 IST
(Source: Reuters)

Highlights

  • Facebook has introduced new guidelines for moderating social and political discussions within employees.
  • The discussions take place on Workplace, Facebook’s internal messaging platforms.
  • Google has also introduced guidelines for internal messaging boards to crack down on tense discussions.

Facebook has introduced new guidelines for its internal social network, Workplace, to curb heated political and social discussions within employees. The guidelines mainly revolve around creating a tougher harassment policy and dictating which areas of Workplace can be used to discuss political or social issues to moderate debates when they do happen. The guidelines are aimed at addressing tense conversations happening out in the world, company spokesperson Joe Osborne told CNBC.

"We deeply value expression and open discussion. 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," Osborne said in a statement. "We're updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive."

Facebook has streamlined parts of Workplace that can be used to discuss social and political issues. The change has been brought about so that employees do not have to confront social issues during their day-to-day work.

The guidelines are aimed at helping the underrepresented members of Facebook's workforce, especially the Black Community, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


Facebook has been the epitome of political talk ahead of US elections and after a WSJ report emerged saying an employee favoured a certain political party in India conflicting with the company's pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world.

Facebook has also received criticism for not taking enough action for hate speech in the past.

After the controversy, Facebook said it prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence and enforces these policies globally without regard to anyone's political position or party affiliation and said, "We know there is more to do."

With the new guidelines in place, Facebook is looking at drawing a boundary between employees' political and social leanings getting in the way of work.


Facebook is not the only company moderating the social and political discussions on internal messaging boards. Google, too, is cracking down on discussions that take place within employees.

As per documents seen by CNBC, Google is expanding a content moderation pilot it started in 2019 to span more than 75 discussion groups on various platforms. It will require most owners of discussion groups to serve as active moderators, to complete mandatory moderation training, and to create a charter to define their group's purpose as well as make sure conversations stay inclusive and in line with their charters.


"Our world is going to get more complicated as the year continues," the team stated in the internal blog. "Tensions continue specifically for our Black+ community with Black Lives Matter, and our Asian Googlers with coronavirus and China/Hong Kong. All of this is compounded by the additional stress of working from home, social isolation, and caregiver responsibilities — to name a few. This new world creates urgency to keep work a welcoming place."

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