On Tuesday morning, President Trump lashed out at Google, with his remarks later broadening to include Twitter and Facebook, accusing it of “rigging” search results by presenting only results “from National Left-Wing Media” and accused “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.”
Those companies “better be careful because you can’t do that to people,” Trump said later in the Oval Office. “I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population.”
Google immediately responded, condemning Trump’s charge, and claiming that “Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”
And yet, as so often happens, in Trump’s crude delivery, the politically incorrect truth was once again found.
According to a memo posted on Facebook’s internal message board titled “We Have a Problem With Political Diversity”, and which was published by the New York Times, senior Facebook engineer Brian Amerige confirmed Trump’s allegation writing that “we are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views” and shockingly admitted that “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.”
The scathing indictment of Facebook’s liberal “mono-culture” continues:
We do this so consistently that employees are afraid to say anything when they disagree with what’s around them politically. HR has told me that this is not a rare concern, and I’ve personally gotten over a hundred messages to that effect. Your colleagues are afraid because they know that they — not their ideas — will be attacked. They know that all the talk of “openness to different perspectives” does not apply to causes of “social justice,” immigration, “diversity”, and “equality.” On this issues, you can either keep quiet or sacrifice your reputation and career.
“These are not fears without cause” Amerige writes, and continues the stunning disclosure of the company’s biased culture, “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.
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Amerige wasn’t alone in his criticism of Silicon Valley’s liberal bias, and as the NYT reports, since the post went up, “more than 100 Facebook employees have joined Mr. Amerige to form an online group called FB’ers for Political Diversity.” The aim of the initiative, according to Mr. Amerige’s memo, is to create a space for ideological diversity within the company.
The new group has upset other Facebook employees, who said its online posts were offensive to minorities. One engineer, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said several people had lodged complaints with their managers about FB’ers for Political Diversity and were told that it had not broken any company rules.
According to the NYT, the activity is a rare sign of organized dissent within Facebook “over the company’s largely liberal workplace culture.” While the new group is just a sliver of Facebook’s work force of more than 25,000, the company’s workers have in the past appeared less inclined than their peers at other tech companies to challenge leadership, and most have been loyalists to its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
It gets better: within Facebook, employees have argued over the decisions to ban certain accounts while allowing others. At staff meetings some workers have repeatedly asked for more guidance on what content the company disallows, and why.
The dispute over employees’ political ideology arose a week before Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing about social media manipulation in elections. A team helping Ms. Sandberg get ready for the hearing next Wednesday has warned her that some Republican lawmakers may raise questions about Facebook and biases, according to two people involved in the preparations.
In May, Facebook announced that former Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, would lead an inquiry into allegations of anticonservative bias on the social network, where new employees supposedly go through training that describes how to have respectful conversations about politics and diversity, and yet fail to achieve any results.
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As for the outspoken Facebook engineer, Amerige – who started working at Facebook in 2012 – said on his personal website that he followed philosophical principles laid out by the philosopher and writer Ayn Rand. He posted the 527-word memo about political diversity at Facebook on Aug. 20.
On issues like diversity and immigration, he wrote, “you can either keep quiet or sacrifice your reputation and career.”
Amerige proposed that Facebook employees debate their political ideas in the new group — one of tens of thousands of internal groups that cover a range of topics — adding that this debate would better equip the company to host a variety of viewpoints on its platform.
As for the prevailing bias withing Facebook, Amerige’s conclusion is simple: “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” he admits.
“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.”
Or ever since Trump became president.
Amerige’s full memo is below (pdf link)