Meta: No discussions about workplace politics – economics

You can say a lot on Facebook and Instagram. For example, one could write that women should not have the right to terminate their pregnancy, but should be allowed to carry automatic firearms. The operator Meta lets users discuss almost everything, including controversial and polemical ones. Mark Zuckerberg thinks so one of its most important tasksto give people a voice.

Meta generously interprets freedom of speech on its public platforms, internally the group will set strict limits in the future. “As Mark recently mentioned, we need to make a number of cultural changes,” hiring director Lori Goler wrote in an internal company release the magazine fortune reported. Therefore, Meta introduces new rules of conduct so that employees can concentrate on the “mission” of the company.

In concrete terms, this means that a number of topics are now taboo in the workplace. These include political elections and movements, the right to own guns and health issues such as abortion or the effectiveness of vaccines. These topics had proven to be “very disturbing”, according to the reasoning. A meta spokesman confirmed the SZ guidelines that it was an “update for our internal communication platforms”. This is necessary to reduce distractions while maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment.

There is a “high risk of creating a hostile work environment”

“We attach great importance to freedom of expression and open discussion,” says Meta. At least as a group, they prefer to stay out of such discussions as long as they are not directly related to Meta itself. Goler, head of human resources, announced that in the future, public statements would only be made on topics that were “of central importance to our business.”

With the new requirements, the company is tightening its existing rules of conduct. When a white police officer killed black man George Floyd in 2020, it sparked heated debates on Meta’s internal communications platforms. The group then forbade employees to continue arguing about it. Last May, another topic landed on the taboo list: abortion. At that time instructed meta employeesnot to discuss the Supreme Court ruling internally.

This topic carries a “high risk of creating a hostile work environment,” Meta explained the decision. That’s why you’ve “taken the position of not allowing open discussions”. If you want to talk to colleagues about the topic, you should only do so in small groups. If the topic is mentioned in chats where more people are reading, the posts will be removed.

Other companies are doing the same

One could interpret the muzzle on employees as a sign of the pressure Meta is currently under: the stock has plummeted, Zuckerberg’s billion-dollar bet on the Metaverse is scaring investors, more than ten thousand people have been laid off. In this situation, all disruptive factors should be hidden – or at least everything that Meta considers disruptive. According to the motto: the product is decisive, not politics.

But that is at most part of the truth. In fact, the decision says at least as much about US political culture as it does about Meta. For a long time, liberal voices dominated in Silicon Valley, and corporations and employees took an open stand on social issues. But in recent years, a counter-movement has set in. Society is deeply divided, and friendships are broken over political issues. Anyone who publicly takes sides will antagonize half the country.

Some companies therefore try to depoliticize themselves in order to avoid internal and external controversies. A good two years ago wrote the head of crypto exchange Coinbase, in Silicon Valley it has become common to get involved socially, even if it has nothing to do with the company’s activities. He chose a different approach because activism has the potential to “destroy a lot of value, both through distraction and internal division.” One therefore wants to promote an “intensive but apolitical corporate culture”. This is in the interests of all employees and shareholders.

Last year, the founders of the software developer chose Basecamp a similar way and forbidden”social and political discussions in the workplace“If you want to debate this with colleagues, you can do so via Signal or other messengers, but please not on the company’s communication platform.

What may seem strange from a German perspective has long been common practice in the USA. However, meta rules of conduct do not recognize national borders: They apply globally and also to employees in Germany.

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