Facebook is again in the news… for all the wrong reasons.
This time, an exposé published in the New York Times highlights the reported ineptitude of Facebook’s leadership in the face of multiple threats, including Russian manipulation of the platform. A subsequent report in the Wall Street Journal shows employees at the company are fed up.
The New York Times report is worth a read if you’re concerned about how social media affects the news cycle (and you should be). It’s a glimpse into how Facebook pulls strings via lobbyists and other interest groups.
Facebook employees are apparently tired of it all, too. The Wall Street Journal points to a leaked internal survey showing a rise in employees wanting to leave the company; most employees say they’ll stay less than four years, down from 4.3 years in last year’s query. Around 12 percent want to leave within a year, up from 10 percent last year. One has to wonder if those willing to stay longer are waiting for restricted stock options to vest before they find the exit.
Roughly half of employees are optimistic about Facebook’s future, down a full 32 percent from last year; 53 percent say the social network is making the world a better place, down 19 percent year-over-year. The survey was completed by 29,000 Facebook staffers earlier in 2018.
One Facebook tech employee (who wished to stay anonymous) told Dice it’s “difficult to want to be here” in the wake of these (and other) stories about the company. Motivation amongst staff they interact with is “dying.”
Facebook’s legislative reckoning may be near, too:
U.S. congressman David Cicilline, the top democrat on the House antitrust subcommittee, in an emailed statement after the NYT piece: pic.twitter.com/xJ7iXjWUGa
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) November 14, 2018
Interestingly enough, Facebook is a routine high performer in third-party surveys. Just about every Blind study paints the company in a favorable light. Glassdoor reviews are also high. These two data-points don’t jibe with the internal survey.
It’s also not the first (or only) company that has fallen on hard times for its business practices. Uber is a precursor for Google and Facebook, in the sense of employees voicing concerns on a variety of issues, forcing media scrutiny and subsequent internal change. If all goes according to precedent, Google and Facebook will also change policies and right their respective ships.
But the long tail of bad news doesn’t bode well for Facebook, now or in the future. We know the average tenure at the company is roughly two years, so turnover is already high. With all that’s been (and being) reported, the company is starting to develop a black eye amongst tech pros.
Are we there yet? https://t.co/ZD5tEGjRnh
— Ben Sandofsky (@sandofsky) November 14, 2018
Ethics is coming to the foreground for tech companies. Now that the halcyon days of Silicon Valley are behind us, we’re left to examine how we’ve arrived at this point. Facebook is a shining example of how broken tech can be, brokering personal data for ad buys while trying to puppet-master Congress. Google is no better, but at least reacts well to employee outrage. Facebook chose to pen a retort to the New York Times that admits to slowness in handling issues, sprinkled with promises to do better; that, as much as anything else, speaks to its character as a company.