Facebook employees have spoken out over the company’s decision to allow political ads with misleading claims, the New York Times reported on Monday.
In an open letter to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, more than 250 Facebook employees said they have grown increasingly wary that the company is “on track to undo the great strides product teams have made in integrity over the last two years”.
“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,” the letter said. “We strongly object to this policy as it stands.”
Facebook employees recommended a host of changes to the company’s policies, such as holding political advertising to standards on par with other forms. Additional features to separate political ads from other types of content, restrictions on targeted ads and spending restrictions for politicians were also called for.
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A spokesperson for Facebook told the New York Times that the social media giant will continue to explore how it can improve the transparency of political advertising.
“Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” said Bertie Thomson, spokeswomen for Facebook. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”
Although the employee outcry represents a small portion of Facebook’s total workforce, it does highlight growing discontent over the company’s deep involvement in democratic processes and follows a period of intense criticism.
Adverts containing “deceptive, false or misleading content” were forbidden by Facebook. However, the company later confirmed that these terms of service do not apply to paid political advertisements by incumbent politicians or those running for office.
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg came under fire from members of the US Congress over the firm’s decision to allow controversial ads on the platform.
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, one of the most outspoken critics of the political ad policy, went so far as to run deliberately misleading ads claiming that Zuckerberg will support Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election. US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was also lauded for her grilling of the Facebook CEO during his appearance before Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez aired her support for the employees on Twitter yesterday, stating: “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.”
Facebook employees aren’t alone in voicing their concerns over controversial company decisions. Workers at Amazon, Microsoft and Google have initiated revolts in recent years.
Earlier this year, Microsoft employees called on the company to cease its involvement in a £375 million US Army contract. Similarly, Google workers spoke out against the company’s contract with US Customs and Border Protection in August of this year.