Facebook sets new rules for workplace communication to ease social, political debates

Zuckerberg said the guidelines would help to ensure that employees felt supported

Facebook is enacting new guidelines for posts on its internal message boards to prevent tension in the workplace regarding social and political issues, the company confirmed on Thursday.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the policy adjustments at a company meeting in response to tense conversations related to the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming presidential election and nationwide protests against systemic racism, a company spokesperson said. The changes are meant to ensure respectful communication between Facebook employees.

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"We deeply value expression and open discussion,” Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne said in a statement. “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. We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive."

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Zuckerberg said the guidelines would help to ensure that employees, especially the company’s Black community, felt supported in the workplace. Facebooks’ internal messaging platform, Workplace, will have designated channels for employees to raise and discuss issues of a political and social nature, rather than those discussions being held on main channels used for day-to-day communication.

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Facebook will unveil a formal policy after further discussion and feedback from its teams, the spokesperson added. Further details are expected to be unveiled before the end of the month.

The changes surfaced amid reports of mounting tension among Facebook employees. Earlier this month, the Daily Beast reported that an internal debate regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the role of law enforcement in society grew so heated that Zuckerberg personally intervened.

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The debate reportedly arose after a Facebook employee shared a post entitled “In Support of Law Enforcement and Black Lives” following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the post, the Facebook staffer reportedly expressed support for police officers and downplayed the role of systemic racism in police-involved shootings.

Facebook has also faced widespread criticism over its policies governing posts on its platform. Dozens of companies boycotted Facebook earlier this summer amid criticism that the company hasn’t done enough to address racism and hate speech.

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