Friday 18 September 2020 9:28 am

Facebook muzzles staff from debating politics internally

Facebook has said it is updating its policies to impose limitations on employees’ ability to discuss social and political issues on internal messaging services.

The new rules will prohibit staff from debating topics such as racial inequality and political beliefs on parts of Facebook’s internal messaging platform Workplace, and provide moderation of debates when they happen in other channels.

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“What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive.”

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told staff of the changes yesterday, with details on the new policy to be revealed next week.

Google is also said to be considering implementing similar measures.

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The rules will also include discussions of how Facebook executives handle political content on the tech firm’s platforms, which has been a matter of concern as the US heads towards its 2020 presidential election in November.

Internal conflict over how Facebook handles misinformation posted by prominent figures such as US President Donald Trump has led to rifts among staff and increased leaking of documents externally.

A Facebook data scientist who was fired earlier this month posted a memo on Workplace on her last day, claiming to show how executives were ignoring evidence that showed a global network of fake accounts aiming to undermine political processes.

The use of messaging services has spiked as Facebook staff work from home during the pandemic, which is set to continue until mid-2021.