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Facebook engineer quits, accusing the company of "profiting off hate"

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A Facebook engineer quit the company on Tuesday and accused it of "profiting off hate." Ashok Chandwaney called out the social media giant's shortcomings in combating hate speech, incitements to violence and misinformation in a resignation letter reportedly posted to Facebook's internal message board Tuesday morning.

After working at Facebook for more than five years, Chandwaney, who is non-binary and uses "they/them" pronouns, wrote that the company is "choosing to be on the wrong side of history."

"I'm quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organization that is profiting off hate in the U.S. and globally," Chandwaney wrote.

In the letter, they cited numerous examples of Facebook allowing posts that include hate speech and calls to participate in organized violence to remain on the platform in violation of their own policies. Chandwaney pointed to the genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar and a militia group's post calling for armed civilians to enter Kenosha, Wisconsin, during the Jacob Blake protests last week to show how "our work has life and death consequences."

Following a shooting that left two people dead, Facebook eventually took the Kenosha militia post down. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said leaving it up was an "operational mistake."  

"Violent hate groups and far-right militias are out there, and they're using Facebook to recruit and radicalize people who will go on to commit violent hate crimes," Chandwaney wrote.

Chandwaney also brought up Facebook not removing President Trump's post that reads, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," accusing the company of being more concerned about "regulatory risk at the expense of the safety of Black, Indigenous, and people of color." 

After nearly 5 1/2 years, today is my last day at Facebook tl;dr I'm quitting because I can no longer stomach...

Posted by Ashok Chandwaney on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Chandwaney went on to accuse Facebook of not prioritizing "social good" over business decisions, resulting in the company not looking into all available options to combat hate speech.

"It seems that Facebook hasn't found the business value to be had in aggressively pursuing the existing credible strategies to remove hate from the platform — despite pressure from civil society, our own employees, our own consultants, and our own customers via the boycott," they wrote.

Chandwaney did credit Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights organization that conducted an audit of Facebook and recommended changes, for their work. However, they hinted that Facebook only ordered the audit as a form of crisis management.

"Given the lack of willingness, commitment, urgency and transparency around actioning the civil rights audit's recommendations to the best of our ability, I am left wondering if the audit was intended to be a PR deflection strategy," they wrote.  

Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, supported Chandwaney's efforts. 

"Facebook has had ample opportunity to address hate and misinformation. Instead of protecting communities of color, they've chosen to cozy up to people in power. Power to Ashok and every @Facebook employee bravely standing up to failed leadership," Robinson wrote on Twitter.

In response to Chandwaney, a spokesperson for Facebook told CBS News in a statement on Wednesday that the company does not "benefit from hate."

"We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and are in deep partnership with outside experts to review and update our policies," the statement said. "This summer, we launched an industry leading policy to go after QAnon, grew our fact-checking program, and removed millions of posts tied to hate organizations - over 96% of which we found before anyone reported them to us."

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