Facebook is making some of its internal online discussion groups private in order to stop information leaking, according to a new report.
Workplace, the social media giant’s corporate forum, will have its groups on platform safety and election protection made private instead of public.
“As everyone is likely aware, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Integrity-related leaks in recent months,” an engineering director wrote in the announcement, according to The New York Times.
“These leaks aren’t representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work and are often taken out of context, leading to our work being mischaracterized externally”
The statement alludes to former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who was the source of a series of damning leaks about the company revealed to the Wall Street Journal.
Haugen, who was a product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team, has claimed that Facebook “chose to optimise for its own interests, like making more money” rather than for the good of the public and testified in front of a Senate committee that her former employer is “tearing our societies apart”.
This was specifically in regards to a secret VIP list that allowed high-profile Facebook users to break its rules, and research that’s suggested Instagram made young girls with body image issues feel worse about themselves.
Facebook had apparently been planning these changes for months, according to spokesperson Andy Stone – but the social media company has had numerous whistleblowers come forward, such as Sophie Zhang who said she had “blood on her hands” after working for the company and passed on documentation about potential criminal violations to a US law enforcement agency.
“Leaks make it harder for our teams to work together, can put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood,” Stone said. Stone himself has been criticised for his response to the whistleblower’s allegations.
In response to the clampdown, some employees were supportive while others said the change was “counterproductive” and “disheartening” – and could encourage further leaking.
“I think every single employee at the company should be thinking about and working on integrity as part of their day-to-day role, and we should work to foster a culture where that’s the expectation,” one Facebook employee apparently wrote.
“Siloing off the people who are dedicated to integrity will harm both active efforts to collaborate and reduce the cultural expectation that integrity is everyone’s responsibility.”