The NY Times reports that a Facebook VP being a friend of Brett Kavanaugh’s has led to outrage at the California company.
â€œI want to apologize,â€ the Facebook executive wrote last Friday in a note to staff. â€œI recognize this moment is a deeply painful one â€” internally and externally.â€
The apology came from Joel Kaplan, Facebookâ€™s vice president for global public policy. A day earlier, Mr. Kaplan had sat behind his friend, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trumpâ€™s nominee for the Supreme Court, when the judge testified in Congress about allegations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. Mr. Kaplanâ€™s surprise appearance prompted anger and shock among many Facebook employees, some of whom said they took his action as a tacit show of support for Judge Kavanaugh â€” as if it were an endorsement from Facebook itself.
The unrest quickly spilled over onto Facebookâ€™s internal message boards, where hundreds of workers have since posted about their concerns, according to current and former employees. To quell the hubbub, Facebookâ€™s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, last Friday explained in a widely attended staff meeting that Mr. Kaplan was a close friend of Judge Kavanaughâ€™s and had broken no company rules, these people said.
Yet the disquiet within the company has not subsided. This week, Facebook employees kept flooding internal forums with comments about Mr. Kaplanâ€™s appearance at the hearing. In a post on Wednesday, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook executive, appeared to dismiss the concerns when he wrote to employees that â€œit is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.â€ Facebook plans to hold another staff meeting on Friday to contain the damage, said the current and former employees. …
The internal turmoil at Facebook â€” described by six current and former employees and a review of internal posts â€” illustrates how divisions over Judge Kavanaughâ€™s nomination to the Supreme Court have cascaded into unexpected places and split one of the worldâ€™s biggest tech companies.
Mr. Kaplanâ€™s show of support for Judge Kavanaugh hits a particularly sensitive spot for Facebook. It has been weathering claims from conservatives and Mr. Trump that Facebook is biased against right-wing websites and opinions. The company has denied this, saying it is a neutral platform that welcomes all perspectives. By showing up at Judge Kavanaughâ€™s side, Mr. Kaplan essentially appeared to choose a political side that goes against the views of Facebookâ€™s largely liberal work force.
Many employees also viewed it as a statement: Mr. Kaplan believed Mr. Kavanaughâ€™s side of the story rather than Dr. Blaseyâ€™s testimony. That felt especially hurtful to Facebook employees who were also sexual assault survivors, many of whom began sharing their own #MeToo stories internally.
The tensions add to a litany of other issues that have sapped employee morale. In the past few weeks alone, the company, based in Silicon Valley, has grappled with the departures of the co-founders of Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, plus the disclosure of its largest-ever data breach and continued scrutiny of disinformation across its network before the midterm elections.
â€œOur leadership team recognizes that theyâ€™ve made mistakes handling the events of the last week and weâ€™re grateful for all the feedback from our employees,â€ Roberta Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday.
Western Society has reached the interesting point at which fashionable class solidarity within capitalist organizations will punish ideological deviationism with as much alacrity as last century’s totalitarian regimes.