Want to spread hate on Facebook? Mark Zuckerberg isn't playing that game

Robyn Valdez
August 20, 2017

Since mid past year, for instance, Facebook has been trying to ensure the internal climate allows ideological diversity inside the company especially after a report surfaced saying a feature on the platform tended to suppress conservative sources of news.

On Facebook, private groups meant for like-minded people can be havens for extremists.

Mark Zuckerberg shuts down Facebook Anon group as it went more political. The iPhone maker also will match employee donations to those two groups and other human rights organizations on a two-for-one basis. But Facebook shut the group down in December 2016 for what Zuckerberg later described as spreading harassment. At the same time however, Facebook markets its platform to advertisers exlicitly on the basis that it is able to provide detailed personal information based on what its post and read. They have the legal right to free speech and to protest in the real world, but what about when they look to form communities and engage in hate speech online?

This report comes just days after fellow tech giant Google fired an employee for distributing a lengthy memo detailing what he perceived as unwarranted diversity initiatives which he said was holding the company back. Civil rights advocates welcomed the moves, but say more needs to be done - and more should have been done earlier.

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In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Zuckerberg joined other business leaders and elected officials in condemning white supremacists.

Facebook shuttered an anonymous internal forum late a year ago after people using the message board posted sexist and racist comments, according to two reports on Wednesday.

That the forum was disabled is an illustration of the struggle by Facebook to enable open, free debate without alienating some employees.

Facebook has had a tough time managing diversity in the workforce.

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With hundreds of members, what was posted on Facebook Anon was regularly discussed by employees outside of the group and throughout the company, according to current and former employees.

The internal group was created in May 2015 as a popular platform for employees to share their opinions about the workplace. The group was often used for talking about less controversial topics, like the ethics of taking home extra dinner from the company cafeteria.

While this group was never meant to be exclusively for conservatives, it eventually morphed into a quasi-safe space for right-leaning employees.

In the wake of in the United States town of Charlottesville, the tech industry has started to some of their services from groups associated with the far-right and those espousing racial intolerance. Zuckerberg explained why during one of the company's regular all-hands meetings three months later. He said the forum had been used to harass people, adding that the behavior wouldn't be tolerated.

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Shortly after the deletion of the group, more posters appeared on the Facebook campus featuring the beginning and end dates of the group with the tagline, "Silenced, but not silent".

Other reports by Info About Network

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