Facebook just recently admitted the mistakes it did following the appearance of a top executive who was seen attending Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s congressional hearing. This reportedly prompted outrage from the tech giant’s employees, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The man in question is Joel Kaplan, who is the head of global policy at Facebook and a long-time friend of Judge Kavanaugh. The two sat two rows behind the nominee as the latter testified regarding allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while in high school.
But for the employees at Facebook, they saw it as a sign that Kaplan intended to support Judge Kavanaugh. This also prompted them to raise concerns with CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his weekly question-and-answer session last Friday.
The disquiet within the company, however, did not quickly subside. This week, the employees kept flooding internal forums with comments about Mr. Kaplan’s appearance at the aforementioned hearing.
In a post, a Facebook executive named Andrew Bosworth appeared to dismiss the concerns when he wrote to employees that “it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.” The social media site plans to hold another staff meeting on Friday to contain the damage, said the current and former employees.
“Sexual assault is an issue society has turned a blind eye to for far too long — compounding every victim’s pain. Our leadership team recognizes that they’ve made mistakes handling the events of the last week and we’re grateful for all the feedback from our employees,” Facebook said via a published statement.
Official reports suggest that a town hall meeting is set to be launched with Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. As expected, it is meant to address the issues raised by the social media giant’s employees.
It is no longer a secret that Facebook has been wrapped up in all sorts of political controversies for some time. In fact, the tech company has been accused of not doing enough to battle and prevent misinformation on its platform. This issue, in particular, surfaced following the controversy it faced during elections.
The internal uproar at Facebook — described by six current and former employees and a review of internal posts — just explains how divisions over Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court have escalated into unexpected places. It is also safe to say that it is successful into splitting one of the world’s biggest tech companies.
Mr. Kaplan’s show of support for Judge Kavanaugh really hits a particularly sensitive spot for Facebook. It has been weathering claims from conservatives and the U.S. President Donald Trump that company is apparently biased when it comes to right-wing websites and opinions.
The company, on the other hand, has denied the claims. It says that it is a neutral platform that welcomes all perspectives. But with Kaplan’s appearance at Judge Kavanaugh’s side, it seems to suggest that the company – or, at least, one of its executives – choose a political side that goes against the views of social media site’s largely liberal work force.
A great number of employees also viewed it as a statement: Kaplan believed Mr. Kavanaugh’s side of the story rather than Dr. Blasey’s testimony. That felt especially hurtful to Facebook employees who are also sexual assault survivors, many of whom began sharing their own #MeToo stories internally.
The tensions add to a list of other issues that have sapped employee morale. In the past few weeks alone, the Silicon Valley-based company has grappled with the departures of the co-founders of Instagram, the photo-sharing app it owned, as well as the disclosure of its largest-ever data breach and continued scrutiny of disinformation across its network before the midterm elections.