Meta Bans Controversial Issues in the Office: Mark Zuckerberg Censorship

photo-caption">Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg: What is considered appropriate discussion in the workplace?
Image Alliance/dpa

  • Employees of the Facebook group Half he should no longer engage in discussions of controversial political issues like abortion, gun control, or the effectiveness of vaccines while on the job.
  • An internal statement says, “We believe this is the right thing for the long-term health of our internal community.” Many people in this country will probably scratch their heads and wonder: how can this be? And is something like that allowed in this country?
  • The freedom of expression guaranteed by the Basic Law also applies in the workplace. The employer must accept political discussions. That’s a good thing, says Business Insider editor Johannes Altmeyer. However, the question arises as to what goals Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pursuing with the new workplace discussion rules.

This article is the opinion of the author and conveys his point of view. You can find more information on the subject here.

It’s a message that’s at first speechless: Employees of Facebook’s parent company Meta should no longer discuss controversial political issues like abortion, gun control or the effectiveness of vaccines while they’re at work. Like this reported is the American “Fortune” magazine, referring to an internal statement from Meta HR Manager Lori Goler.

Goler wrote to all employees that Meta is introducing new rules dictating what constitutes appropriate discussion in the workplace: “As (company founder) Mark (Zuckerberg) recently mentioned, we need to make a number of cultural shifts that will help us prioritize our priorities meet.” This is coupled with the downside that not all types of expression of opinion are allowed in the workplace.”We believe this is the right thing for the long-term health of our internal community.”

The right thing, really? Many employees in Germany are likely to scratch their heads and wonder: how can this be? And is something like that allowed in this country?

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Regarding the first question: the code of conduct traditionally plays an important role in US companies. Violations are punished quickly and severely, and sometimes such incidents end up in court with publicity. For business reasons only, corporate CEOs and their HR managers must ensure that all employees feel treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace.

Streaming provider Netflix’s Code of Conduct is considered a benchmark for the entire technology industry. Former Netflix executive Patty McCord summarized the underlying principles in an article for Harvard Business Review magazine together as follows: “Very honest and treats people like adults.”

Less conflicts? Or is it censorship?

Meta boss Zuckerberg and HR manager Goler should start thinking here themselves. Do your colleagues really feel treated like adults by the new discussion rules? On the other hand, perhaps they have already got used to this climate. Already in July Meta forbade its employeesto discuss abortion in large chat groups.

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he said then: “I appreciate that Meta is trying to create a workplace with less friction and less conflict, but that’s not the right way to do it. Ultimately, this will make employees feel censored, monitored and silenced by this policy.

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On the second question: what is the situation in this country? Of course: the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Basic Law also applies in the workplace. The employer must accept political discussions. In this regard, it is permissible for colleagues to express their opinions among themselves. If the employer wants to take action against political statements or discussions, he needs good reasons. Discussions must not be to the detriment of working hours, must not offend and must not endanger company peace through provocation. In case of racist or anti-Semitic slurs, dismissal without notice is even an option.

In concrete terms, this means that the new meta-rules should not be valid before a German employment court.

As is known, Meta is not a German company, but an American one. It is therefore worth considering other possible reasons related, for example, to US society and politics. Again and again, Zuckerberg is accused of favoring a certain political camp with his Facebook empire and of manipulating the Facebook news feed algorithms accordingly. Many Republicans suspect a hidden left-liberal agenda to block conservative issues and promote progressive issues.

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So Zuckerberg just wants to get out of the (political) line of fire? The July requirement could already be interpreted this way. Because in late June the mostly conservative Supreme Court overturned a 1973 ruling known as “Roe vs. Wade,” which previously upheld the right to abortion. The Constitutional Court thus paved the way for tougher abortion laws and aroused great outrage in the United States.

The bottom line is that the new meta rules are for US employees, and US employees only. In Germany, the right to freedom of expression also applies in the office. So far, all clear. Is it that easy? Not really. The vague fear remains that the thematically limited working atmosphere in Meta could also affect the global Facebook network and its contents.

The great thing is that if you want to discuss this topic in this country, you can do it not only with friends and family, but also with your work colleagues. No one should let this freedom be taken away from them.

What is your opinion? Talk to the author LinkedIn & Chirping.

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