07 Oct Facebook: A Company Culture Nightmare
Mark Zuckerberg once said to a friend, “You can be unethical and still be legal, that’s the way I live my life.” These are the words of the man who arguably has more power and influence than “anyone in the private sector or in government.” With 2.7 billion people using at least one Facebook property on a monthly basis, and Zuckerberg controlling 60% of the company’s voting shares, we should all be concerned.
The Facebook code of conduct states, “Our reach and influence require that we commit and hold ourselves accountable to a high standard, ensuring that we build products and programs that have a positive impact, keep people safe and serve everyone.” When the facts are examined (as they will be below), there is a very obvious divide between what Facebook says and how they actually behave. We all know that actions speak louder than words, and there’s no doubt Facebook knows their words are hollow and insincere.
The younger generations, who are the future of the workforce, agree that they don’t support companies that put profit and greed above doing what’s right.
When a company preaches something that they fail to uphold (miserably, in the case of Facebook), the entire operation is doomed. Nobody likes a hypocrite. What’s more, companies that lack morals and social responsibility are finding it harder and harder to find a place in the increasingly activist world of today. The younger generations, who are the future of the workforce, agree that they don’t support companies that put profit and greed above doing what’s right. 63% of millennials said that the primary purpose of a business should be benefiting society instead of generating profit. Needless to say, Facebook does not fall into that category.
We’ve all seen the movie, The Social Network. It’s clear that Facebook never had people’s best interests at heart. They can’t even blame their immorality on getting derailed at some point in the shuffle. The founder’s original intent for the platform was to rate the attractiveness of his female classmates at Harvard. It was built on the principles of judgement, objectification, and vanity. Not to mention the claims that Zuckerberg stole the idea for the business from the Winklevoss twins, and the $65M settlement that helped bury the forensic evidence of Zuckerberg’s guilt.
Facebook has become synonymous with misinformation and clandestine data-mining/selling. If not for the Cambridge Analytica scandal being brought to light in 2018, Facebook likely never would have been exposed for the unethical behavior it’s relied upon to generate a massive profit over the years.
From igniting a mental health crisis among teens, to facilitating organ selling and forced sex work, Facebook’s internal investigations have uncovered some chilling findings.
Since then, the spotlight has been on Facebook, and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Yet still, time after time, the $1 trillion company has managed to bury compelling evidence that it’s become a menace to society. From igniting a mental health crisis among teens, to facilitating organ selling and forced sex work, Facebook’s internal investigations have uncovered some chilling findings. Yet with each study that the Facebook team pays to conduct, the research is never meant to see the light of day. In fact, it’s not even meant to be acted upon internally. That’s right, little to no action has been taken to counteract the negative impact that Facebook knows it has on our global society.
When the Facebook security team discovered (ahead of time) that there was Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, they chose to keep it secret. When an internal investigation, named “Project P” (for propaganda), pinpointed sources of harmful political misinformation surrounding Trump’s victory, a mere few of the accounts were disabled. When a former Facebook data scientist turned whistle-blower explained how the company “habitually ignored or delayed action on fake accounts interfering in elections around the world,” company officials tried to deny her claims.
When Facebook’s AI was tasked with addressing misinformation, the company changed course and vetoed the project for fear of hurting user engagement and growth. When an internal message was posted regarding recent learnings of a Mexican drug cartel using the platform to recruit, train, and pay hit men, nothing was done to stop the cartel from posting. When employees flagged organ harvesting/selling pages, Facebook turned a blind eye. When it was discovered that 59% of online sex trafficking in 2020 took place on Facebook, the company’s response was weak, due to concern of alienating users. While internal documents proved this response as factual, Facebook spokesmen still attempted to deny the validity of such claims.
The company’s illegal “buy-or-bury” scheme has resulted in the FTC recently (Aug. 2021) filing a complaint against Facebook, accusing them of having a monopoly.
Yet despite it all, Facebook continues to experience growth. As of the end of 2020, the number of Facebook users (2.8B) amounts to over half of the world’s internet users (4.9B), and has only grown since.
The fact that they’re still standing after all that (and much more) makes them look practically invincible. The platform is designed with manipulation in mind, and users develop a real addiction to the dopamine-releasing social network. So much so that they’re willing to overlook the dark side that is quite literally wreaking havoc on the world. Plus, it doesn’t help that Facebook now owns 78 other companies, including Instagram ($1B), WhatsApp ($19B), and Oculus VR ($2B). The company’s illegal “buy-or-bury” scheme has resulted in the FTC recently (Aug. 2021) filing a complaint against Facebook, accusing them of having a monopoly.
While many believe that Facebook, and Zuckerberg, should be held to a higher standard, it’s clear that will never be the case. Whatever checks we try to put in place will simply be worked around. Zuckerberg and Facebook live above the law, and will never be fully held accountable for all the terrible, shady business they conduct. The only true solution is for the people to stop using the platform, or for the government to shut it down. Personally, I don’t use Facebook because of the moral implications. Based on the lawsuits piling up, it seems the downfall of the company could be imminent. While that may be a good thing in some respects, it will also have devastating consequence for the 100s of thousands of people who work there.
In an anonymous survey of Facebook employees, 37% reported feeling depressed. The latest whistleblower has sparked an investigation, and Facebook stock plummeted after a worldwide outage. It seems that the buildup of all this bad press has finally reached a point where investors can no longer look the other way. While the downfall of Facebook could put tons of people out of a job, it seems it could be a blessing in disguise for those employees who report being miserably employed under Zuckerberg.
Clearly, it’s long been a pattern for Facebook’s guilt to be exposed and subsequently covered up with money and rhetoric.
Facebook claims that its goal is to connect people, when all evidence shows that it’s tearing us apart. “We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” said an internal review document. Clearly, it’s long been a pattern for Facebook’s guilt to be exposed and subsequently covered up with money and rhetoric. As current and prospective employees and users of Facebook, we should be asking ourselves how long we want to continue putting up with this behavior.
Shaara Roman is founder and CEO of The Silverene Group, a culture consultancy that helps companies align their people programs with business goals.