A whistleblower and a trove of leaked documents have raised questions about Facebook’s business practices, including its alleged prioritization of engagement over user safety. Pundits and analysts are questioning whether the social-networking giant should be broken up or regulated in some way.
According to Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists about a range of issues, some 45 percent of Facebook employees also think that regulation would be a good thing. However, the sample size of 482 “verified” Facebook employees is small, considering the company employs around 60,000 people.
Although the tech industry is often fearful of regulation, it seems that employees at other tech companies also don’t mind if the federal government hits Facebook with some new rules. “Among all professionals surveyed by Blind, five out of seven (72 percent) answered affirmatively to the question: ‘Should the federal government impose regulations on Facebook?”’ read a note accompanying Blind’s data. “Professionals at Facebook’s rival social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snap, Twitter, and TikTok-developer ByteDance were among the most enthusiastic for new rules for the $900-billion Internet giant.”
If you can’t beat ‘em, get the Feds to regulate ‘em, in other words. But Facebook’s current difficulties (which include a spectacular system crash in early October and fines for alleged discrimination against U.S. workers) might only multiply if its valuable technologists decide they don’t want to work for the company anymore. While Facebook pays its engineers, data scientists, and other professionals quite a bit, money is only part of the equation when it comes to retention; people want to feel good about their employer.
In order to keep its talent in place, Facebook’s managers (and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself) will need to convince the workforce that the company ultimately has its users’ best interests at heart. Senior leadership must also show it has a plan to tackle Facebook’s external crises—and that probably goes beyond a name change.