Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, who was given the sack earlier this month, has posted a 6600-word memo on her last day at work, and the tea is so scalding I may need to sit down for a few seconds.
The memo essentially claims that Facebook has often ignored damning evidence of fake accounts getting in the way of political processes across the entire globe.
Zhang says she told the company about malicious activity that was undermining global elections – but was informed that “human resources are limited” when she requested help to combat the issue.
“I know that I have blood on my hands by now,” Zhang wrote.
“I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count.
“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” she wrote.
Now that, my friends, is some tea, and I know my Bushells.
Zhang then went on to give examples of governments from countries that have engaged in a range of tactics with the intent to sway either elections or political matters. The list is extensive and includes Azerbaijan, Honduras, India, Ukraine, Ecuador and Bolivia.
In her memo, she said that she and her colleagues removed “10.5 million fake reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in Brazil and the US” during elections in 2018.
In Azerbaijan, Zhang discovered the ruling political party “utilized thousands of inauthentic assets… to harass the opposition en masse.”
“I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count,” she wrote.
“I consider myself to have been put in an impossible spot – caught between my loyalties to the company and my loyalties to the world as a whole,” she said. “The last thing I want to do is distract from our efforts for the upcoming U.S. elections, yet I know this post will likely do so internally.”
In September last year, Zuckerberg pledged that the company would be “going to extend our work with election officials to remove misinformation about voting,” amongst other promises, which now seems to be completely misleading.
Amongst all the tea spilling, Zhang also highlighted that she turned down a whopping US$64,000 severance package from Zuckerberg’s empire to avoid signing a nondisparagement agreement. In doing so, she was allowed to speak out internally and reckon with her powers in the company to police political speech.
I’m holding onto everything just awaiting a response from the Zuck.
You can read the full report on the memo, which was sent to Buzzfeed, here.