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Facebook feature in 'Workplace' communication software that lets employers ban topics 'unionize'

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Facebook showcases feature in its business communication tool Workplace that lets employers ban topics like ‘unionize’

  • An internal presentation on a feature in ‘Workplace’ suggested that ‘unionize’ could be a word banned by employers
  • The presentation caused backlash from employees and was taken down
  • The incident is the latest clash of company culture at Facebook 

Facebook is touting a new feature inside its ‘Workplace’ communication software that allows employers to block words like ‘unionize’ from trending.

According to a report from The Intercept, the feature was showed off in an internal presentation by the company this week and explicitly used the word ‘unionize’ as an example of words that employers may want to block from trending in the software.

Specifically the feature wouldallow employers to block certain topics from trending inside the product’s interface which looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed. 

A facebook presentation listed'unionize' as one of the topics that can be banned inside its'Workplace' software according to a report from The Intercept

A facebook presentation listed ‘unionize’ as one of the topics that can be banned inside its ‘Workplace’ software according to a report from The Intercept 

According to The Intercept, Facebook’s presentation of the feature and its use of ‘unionize’ as a topic that could potentially be blacklisted by employers caused backlash internally.

The Intercept reports that the presentation was taken down shortly after being made available and was subsequently deleted.

According to The Intercept, Karandeep Anand, a product manager for Facebook Workplace addressed the decision afterward. 

‘Censoring users is not the purpose of this feature and Workplace’s ambition is to give everyone a voice, while maintaining a respectful work environment,’ said Anand according to The Intercept.

A Facebook spokesperson also commented on the matter, telling The Intercept: 

‘While these kinds of content moderation tools are useful for companies, this example was poorly chosen and should never have been used,’ a spokesperson said.

‘The feature was only in early development and we’ve pulled any plans to roll it out while we think through next steps.’

 

As noted by The Intercept, the pushback from employees is the latest example of internal conflict at Facebook over company policy and culture. 

Recently, employees protested the company’s decision not fact-check US President Donald Trump and are threatening walk outs unless the platform takes action. 

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