Facebook Memo: “A Problem with Political Diversity”

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The Facebook memo, titled “We Have a Problem with Political Diversity,” is an essay published on Facebook’s internal message board by senior Facebook engineer Brian Amerige on August 20th. It called for his fellow employees to join a Facebook group, named “FB’ers for Political Diversity,” in order to discuss the problems of intolerance for, and character attacks on, employees whose opinions are in opposition to the company’s left-leaning ideology.

We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views.​ We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack—often in mobs—anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology. We throw labels that end in ​obe ​ and ​ist​ at each other, attacking each other’s character rather than their ideas.

Brian Amerige, “We Have a Problem with Political Diversity”

Now, conservative employees of Facebook are standing up to challenge an intolerant culture within their company. More than 600 people have joined the group in response to the memo, in order to discuss the issues without fear of mob justice within the company. The group is a closed group; whether or not all the members of the group are Facebook employees remains to be seen. But it is a start. These are discussions which need to be had, regardless of how uncomfortable they might be.

Facebook employees are fearful of speaking up. The culture within Facebook is one of attacks on people, rather than ideas. Just as was explained in the memo published by James Damore, these employees are faced with sacrificing their reputation or their career by speaking out against the ideological intolerance of the company. Their fear is justified.

These are not fears without cause. Because we tear down posters welcoming Trump supporters. We regularly propose removing Thiel from our board because he supported Trump. We’re quick to suggest firing people who turn out to be misunderstood, and even quicker to conclude our colleagues are bigots. We have made “All Lives Matter” a fireable offense. We put Palmer Luckey through a witch hunt because he paid for anti-Hillary ads. We write each other ad-hoc feedback in the PSC tool for having “offensive” ideas. We ask HR to investigate those who dare to criticize Islam’s human rights record for creating a “non inclusive environment.” And they called me a transphobe when I called out our corporate art for being politically radical.

Some employees have derided the Facebook group as offensive, according to the New York Times. They say its posts are offensive to minorities, without any consideration to the irony of offenses levied against the political minority of conservatives within the company. Some have even lodged complaints with their managers, however they were told that the group does not violate any of the company’s rules. Though the group’s numbers are less than 3% of Facebook’s 25,000 employees, it represents the growing concern for impartiality and transparency within the company.

Amerige has not responded to media requests for comment. The entire memo (PDF) can be downloaded here.

This is not okay. Not just for our internal culture, but for our own viability as a company. While the problem isn’t unique to us, we are entrusted by a great part of the world to be impartial and transparent carriers of people’s stories, ideas, and commentary. Congress doesn’t think we can do this. The President doesn’t think we can do this. And like them or not, we deserve that criticism. We are blind to and dismissive of what people beyond our walls (let alone even within our walls) think about complex issues that matter. I’ve been here for nearly 6.5 years and this has gotten exponentially worse in the last 2.