Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
A Facebook engineer said in a farewell video that the company was “failing” to mitigate harm and has “enshrined that failure in our policies,” BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday. Max Wang, a Boston-based former engineer who claimed in the recording obtained by BuzzFeed that he joined Facebook in 2011, said he didn’t think CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company leaders were acting in malice.
“But that does not mean their actions are not going to harm people,” Wang said. He added that he did not believe Facebook was “paying enough attention to the raw human needs of the people who use our platform.” The company is “trapped by our ideology of free expression,” he said.
Of particular concern to Wang was how the platform handled — or didn’t handle— a controversial post by President Trump where he commented, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” about protesters in Minneapolis. Facebook opted not to take any action and left the post up, despite Twitter adding a label to the tweeted version for “glorifying violence.”
Wang said Zuckerberg’s comments at a company meeting discussing the post felt like “gaslighting.”
“We weren’t asking ‘does this thing follow our policy?’ We were asking ‘why do our policies allow for this thing?’” Wang said. “Why don’t our policies require that we do take some kind of action?” Zuckerberg framed his response around following policies rather than fixing policies, Wang added. The response prompted a June 1st virtual walkout by dozens of Facebook employees.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.