Facebook asks employees to keep communications for legal reasons

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Facebook has asked employees to “preserve documents and internal communications since 2016” that pertain to its activities, as governments and lawmakers have opened investigations into its operations, according to a company email sent Tuesday night.

The move, known as the “legal take”, follows close scrutiny from the media, laws and regulations about damage caused by the social network. Lawmakers and the public are angry after Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, provided thousands of internal documents to lawmakers and the media showing how well the company was aware of some of its ill effects, such as the spread of misinformation and exacerbating body image problems in some adolescents.

These files, known as Facebook Papers, were originally posted by The Wall Street Journal.

“As you probably know, we are currently at the center of extensive media coverage based on a series of internal documents,” Facebook said in the employee email, which was obtained by The New York Times. “As is often the case with this type of reporting, a number of investigations by governments and legislative bodies have been launched into the operations of the company.”

In the Facebook Papers, the company’s researchers debated how to fix many of the issues that have arisen in some of its products over the years. Over time, basic Facebook features – such as likes, shares, groups, recommendations – have not only been used to grow the business, but have also been manipulated by some to harm users. , according to the documents. Many Facebook employees wondered how to contain the fallout, according to the documents.

Ms. Haugen has filed whistleblower complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also testified in Congress this month and spoke with British lawmakers on Monday.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the legal suspension was sent to employees on Tuesday evening, but declined to clarify the cause of action. “Records retention requests are part of the process of responding to legal inquiries,” she said.

Facebook has already issued legal instructions to employees. Last year, after the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general sued Facebook for illegally crushing its competitors, the company advised workers to avoid discussing issues related to the litigation and asked them to take online training courses understand competition compliance policies.

The company is also involved in an online ad pricing investigation with Google in an antitrust lawsuit against the search giant filed by 10 state attorneys general last year.

Facebook has also tried to tackle employee leaks. This month, he told workers he would shut down internal groups focused on platform and election security. This would make it more difficult for them to see discussions related to these topics and limit participation.

“These are the actions of a company trying to withstand scrutiny, not embrace transparency,” wrote Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who led a Senate subcommittee investigation on Facebook , in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook about the action. .

In Tuesday’s email, Facebook told employees to keep everything from January 1, 2016. It also advised them to keep messages encrypted and noted that they should stay away from ephemeral messages at times. business purposes until further notice.

There has been no “specific action at this time,” the email reads, but employees should not discuss or post the legal suspension anywhere on Workplace, the internal bulletin board of the company. business.

Not all aspects of Facebook’s business were bound by legal custody, according to the email. The company told employees that documents related only to WhatsApp, its messaging service; Spark AR, his augmented reality studio; and the new product experimentation group, an internal incubator, were excluded from legal control.

“You don’t need to keep any documents or communications that relate exclusively to WhatsApp as a company product,” the email read. “You should keep all WhatsApp messages related to other topics.”


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