Even Facebook’s own employees don’t like the company’s new rules, which allow politicians to use paid ads to spread false information.
The New York Times reported Monday that more than 250 employees have signed an open letter, posted on an internal company forum, which urges the company’s top executives to rethink Facebook’s controversial policies.
“Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing,” the letter says. “Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”
The employees propose a series of changes, including:
- Banning misinformation from political ads.
- A “stronger design treatment” for political ads, with more obvious labels.
- Restrictions on how narrowly politicians can use Facebook’s ad-targeting tools.
- Set limits on how much any one politician can spend on Facebook ads.
In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thomson said the company is “committed to not censoring political speech.”
“Facebook’s culture is built on openness so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Thomson wrote. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”
Courageous workers at Facebook are now standing up to the corporation’s leadership, challenging Zuckerberg’s disturbing policy on allowing paid, targeted disinformation ads in the 2020 election: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1188873278812803072 …The New York Times✔@nytimesIn an open letter aimed at Mark Zuckerberg and his top lieutenants, Facebook employees decried the company’s policy of allowing politicians to post any claim, even false ones, in ads, saying it was “a threat to what FB stands for” https://nyti.ms/36gOpUO 42.5K12:28 AM – Oct 29, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy9,965 people are talking about this
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who last week sharply questioned Zuckerberg over Facebook’s ad policies, praised the employees behind the letter. “Courageous workers at Facebook are now standing up to the corporation’s leadership, challenging Zuckerberg’s disturbing policy on allowing paid, targeted disinformation ads in the 2020 election,” she wrote on Twitter.
As The Times notes, the few hundred who have so far signed the letter are only a small minority of Facebook’s employees. But the letter, and its leaking, is a rare instance of internal dissent spilling over into the public. And the letter-writers suggested that the number of employees who agree with them could be far greater.
“Our goal is to bring awareness to our leadership that a large part of the employee body does not agree with this policy.”
Updated with statement from Facebook.