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Facebook shuts down anonymous in-house forum over harassment

Facebook shuts down anonymous in-house forum over harassment


FB Anon had become a ‘hub’ for Trump supporters

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An anonymous in-house chatroom at Facebook that had become a “hub” for Donald Trump supporters was closed last year by the company after comments made on the forum disturbed management, according to several reports. The forum, called FB Anon, was shut down last December. Debate usually centered around conservative issues, but sometimes deteriorated into racist and sexist statements. The group had hundreds of members, and content posted there was talked about throughout the company, reports Business Insider.

The forum was built in May 2015 as a place for employees to vent their frustrations and share sensitive information, away from managers. It gradually became a center for backers of Donald Trump as the election drew nearer, with many right-leaning workers using the forum and considering it a safe haven for their views. “There was a feeling that everyone at the company was a Democrat or left-leaning,” one former employee told Business Insider.

But some posts incited anger, including one that said code written by women was rejected more often than that produced by men because Facebook “lowered the bar to attract female engineers.” The complaint mirrors those made in a controversial memo from a Google engineer last week, which claimed women are less biologically suited to be engineers than men.

Three months after FB Anon was shut down, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees that the company had taken these steps because the forum had been used to harass people. At the time of its closure, the company also reminded staff that they were free to discuss sensitive subjects on other platforms, but just not anonymously.

The group reportedly putting up posters in Facebook’s campus before the election reading “Trump Supporters Welcome.” After Zuckerberg addressed employees about the forum, another poster was put up reading “Silenced, but not silent,” with FB Anon’s start and end dates, according to Business Insider.

Lori Goler, head of people at Facebook said in a statement that a “cornerstone of our culture is being open.” Some Facebook employees told the WSJ that although they found certain comments on FB Anon offensive, they disagreed with its removal, saying there was “lots of information that you would not have had otherwise.” Goler said the internal group violated Facebook’s terms of service: “People who use Facebook including our employees [are required] to use an authentic identity on our platform.”