A Facebook employee warns colleagues that they are ‘drunk with authority’: Documents

A Facebook employee accused colleagues of being “power drunk” last summer while discussing the company’s response to violence related to black lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to an internal discussion obtained by The Post.

The warning came after the company removed posts supporting Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people during the Kenosha unrest in August 2020. Facebook deemed many of the pro-Rittenhouse posts – some of which read “Free Kyle” – in violation of the site’s rules.

Most Facebook employees in the internal discussion seem to favor the company’s moves. But the defector accused the staff of exercising too much control over the spread of information.

“The riots lasted for more than three months and it is only a problem now because people inside the company saw violence that they did not like,” the employee said. “Employees are intoxicated by the sheer power of controlling civic education in America, without ever having to visit the polling booth (if voting is even an option).”

The internal debate came five days after Rittenhouse, then 17, used an assault rifle to shoot and kill two people, one of whom was carrying a pistol, during the Kenosha unrest. Rittenhouse faces a charge of murder and attempted murder, but pleaded not guilty and argued that he was acting in self-defence.

Facebook docs
Facebook employees discussed the company’s response to the violence in Kenosha, according to documents obtained by The Post.

The name of the Facebook employee who accused colleagues of being “power-drunk” has been revised in a copy of the document obtained by The Post.

A Facebook data scientist started a discussion about Rittenhouse on an employee comment board. He also questioned Facebook’s response to content related to the shootings.

Facebook’s rules prohibit praising, supporting, or representing the mass shooter or the mass shooting itself. Content supporting Rittenhouse circulated widely in the days following filming, The Guardian newspaper reported. Fundraisers supporting Rittenhouse and “Free Kyle” memes collected thousands of posts on Facebook and Instagram before they were deleted, according to the outlet.

In his letter, the data scientist acknowledged media reports about content linked to Rittenhouse, questioned whether Facebook was taking the right approach to managing posts to support the shooter and noted that the company’s content rules are vague.

“Can we really consistently and objectively distinguish between (not allowed) support and discuss whether [Rittenhouse] Is it treated fairly (allowed)? The data scientist wrote. “Try to read the posts referring to it and see if you can separate the violating content from the non-violating content.”

Facebook headquarters
“Employees are intoxicated by the sheer power of controlling civic education in America, without ever having to visit the polling booth (if voting is even an option),” wrote one employee.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“I know our company is full of smart, dedicated people who want to do the right thing,” the data scientist wrote. “However, I do not believe that the current system in which we operate enables us to achieve success, even with the money, talent and motivation that should lead us to the right path.”

However, the defector’s response to the data scientist shows that Facebook’s workforce is divided over how active the role the company should play in regulating speech.

Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two people during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020.

The data scientist’s complaints mirror those of whistleblower Frances Hogan and were disclosed in Disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and submitted to Congress as redacted by Hogan’s legal counsel.

A consortium of news organizations, including The Post, obtained the redacted transcripts received by Congress.

These discoveries outraged policymakers around the world. On Tuesday night, the company reportedly ordered employees to “retain internal documents and correspondence since 2016” due to government inquiries at the company, The New York Times reported.

Documents leaked by Haugen also highlight the harmful effects of Instagram on teens’ mental health, Facebook’s struggle to crack down on traffickers using the site and a list of other issues.

“As you probably know, we are currently the focus of extensive media coverage based on a set of internal documents,” Facebook said in an email to employees, according to the newspaper. “As is often the case following this type of reporting, a number of inquiries have been launched from governments and legislative bodies into the company’s operations.”

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg angrily accused whistleblowers and journalists of conspiring against the company.

“My view is that what we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a wrong picture of our company,” Zuckerberg said in a call with Facebook investors.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts