“Two years for a coup, not bad,” says one ad, quoting one employee’s sarcastic internal post previously reported by BuzzFeed.
The groups are also planning a blitz throughout the San Francisco Bay area. They’re going to run billboards with the employee quotes around Menlo Park, Calif., and other cities that Facebook employees frequent. They even plan to fly a plane over the company’s Menlo Park headquarters with a banner that reads, “KeepTrumpOffFacebook.com.”
“There’s not a lot of leverage points when it comes to Facebook, but the one thing that has proven to actually have meaningful leverage is their own employees,” Angelo Carusone, president and chief executive of Media Matters, said in an interview. “The point of this is to make the employees feel somewhat empowered but somewhat on the hook to actually say something.”
Employees have proven to be a significant force in shaping Silicon Valley companies’ policies.
Tech company employees have been taking public stands against their employers’ policies in recent years, on issues ranging from their handling of Trump to their dealings with the military. And due to intense demand for engineers and other talent in Silicon Valley, they can sometimes have a big effect on executives’ decisions.
Facebook issued a more specific timeline for its Trump suspension after the company's Oversight Board criticized its initial indefinite ban, and Facebook said it would reinstate him only if “the risk to public safety has receded.” Some Facebook employees were angered by the company's response and aired their grievances on an internal company messaging board.
“If this gets 2 years, what can one possibly do to get a lifetime ban,” one employee wrote, according to BuzzFeed. Another worker shared a false statement from Trump about alleged 2020 election fraud and called on the platform to take into account the former president’s actions offline when making these decisions.
Advocacy groups are seizing on those tensions.
“I know plenty of good people who work for Facebook, but it gets harder and harder to rationalize,” Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech, said in an email.
Facebook employees have previously taken a stand against the company’s handling of Trump.
Hundreds of employees last summer staged a virtual walkout to protest the company’s hands-off approach to the former president’s accounts. Facebook took no action when Trump posted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” amid protests after the death of George Floyd.
Facebook employees circulated petitions and threatened to resign over the company’s inaction.
The ads are part of a broad campaign to keep up the pressure on Facebook.
Media Matters, Accountable Tech and a broad coalition of more than 30 advocacy groups today released a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, saying Zuckerberg’s decision to give Trump a second chance on the social network is “unconscionable.”
“You would be handing him the megaphone through which he incited an insurrection — all without implementing meaningful design or enforcement changes to prevent the worst from happening again,” the groups wrote.
It ran as a full-page ad in today’s San Jose Mercury News, and its signatories included the Anti-Defamation League, the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet and the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Facebook has acknowledged that its decision is controversial. Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president for global affairs, said it receives criticism “from all sides.”
“We do hope, though, that reasonable observers will believe that we are acting as reasonably and proportionately as we can in these -- in these very difficult circumstances,” he said in an ABC interview.
Want to talk more about the Oversight Board, Trump and the fight for control at Facebook? Join my colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin, Harvard Law lecturer Evelyn Douek, former Facebook executive Katie Harbath and me for a Washington Post discussion on Twitter Spaces at 5 p.m. Eastern. Sign up for a reminder here.
Our top tabs
Higher ride-share fares aren’t trickling down to gig workers’ earnings.
Companies like Uber have uncoupled driver earnings from passenger fares, meaning that drivers no longer receive earnings proportional to the fees of their passengers, Faiz Siddiqui reports. The recent change in California, one of Uber’s major testing grounds, came amid a driver shortage and less than a year after voters reiterated that drivers in the state are independent contractors.
“The customer may be seeing this huge price, but that doesn’t mean the driver is being compensated accordingly,” said a former Uber engineer familiar with the company’s strategy. Uber spokesman Matthew Wing said the median take rate, which measures the cut the company takes from driver earnings, has remained the same, but he declined to provide data that would account for some disparities.
Biden revoked Trump’s bans of TikTok and other Chinese apps and started a new security review process.
The executive order could prompt fresh steps to restrict the apps, Jeanne Whalen and Ellen Nakashima report. After the government reviews the apps, it can choose to “take action, as appropriate,” the administration said in a fact sheet.
“The administration is extremely committed to ensure protection of Americans’ data from foreign at-risk apps across the board … including large and popular apps,” a senior administration official said. “I think there are a wide range of actions that can be negotiated or imposed to ensure Americans’ data can be comprehensively protected.”
Amazon plans to spend $12 million on a new workforce safety initiative amid high injury rates at its warehouses.
The announcement would give the National Safety Council, a nonprofit advocacy group that is best known for driver safety initiatives, funding to research and develop technology to reduce the types of injuries that are common in Amazon warehouses, Jay Greene reports. The initiative comes after a Washington Post report showing that the company reports more injuries at its warehouses than its rivals.
“We know we have work to do,” said Heather MacDougall, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide workplace health and safety. Amazon and the council are also launching the MSD Pledge, an effort to get other employers to join it in tracking musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, and set up programs to reduce the injuries.
But the partnership has its limitations. The nonprofit organization will not try to hold Amazon accountable, and it is not clear whether the safety data that Amazon provides to the council will be made public. The company will also continue to track workers using performance metrics, which workers and critics say can lead to injuries.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Rant and rave
An Internet outage on Tuesday was caused by a Fastly customer who updated their settings, triggering a bug, the company said. TechCrunch’s Ron Miller:
Writer Ana Kinsella:
Amazon successfully lobbied to remove consumer protections from the Senate’s China bill.
The measures would have required online marketplaces to verify the identities of third-party sellers on their websites, Jay Greene and Jeff Stein report. Repeated objections to the measure by an Amazon-led group were partly responsible for its exclusion, congressional aides said.
“Like many other companies, including online retailers and small businesses that sell online, we had concerns with attaching controversial legislation pushed by big-box retailers to the broader China bill,” Amazon spokesman Alex Haurek said. Amazon has pushed for stronger enforcement against the fraudsters.
Inside the industry
- GameStop named Amazon executives Matt Furlong and Mike Recupero as its new CEO and chief financial officer. Furlong led Amazon’s Australia operations, while Recupero was chief financial officer of the e-commerce giant’s consumer business.
- Carolyn Everson, who led global ad sales at Facebook, announced that she left the company and is “very much looking forward to starting a new chapter.”
- Kate Charlet, Google’s director for data governance, and others debate federal privacy legislation at an R Street Institute event today at 2 p.m.
- The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing on broadband and infrastructure on June 16 at 10 a.m.
- Werner Stengg, a cabinet expert to European digital enforcer Margrethe Vestager, discusses the European Commission’s new proposal to regulate artificial intelligence at an event hosted by Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI on June 17 at noon.