Facebook Communities Voice Concern Over Lack of Moderation

It’s been a long time coming

Key Takeaways

  • A long-time employee has resigned from Facebook, citing misinformation and hate.
  • The company’s social media philosophy can ostracize individuals from various communities.
  • People continue to voice their concerns with Facebook, with many leaving the platform altogether.
Facebook logo displayed on an iPhone in front of a TV screen displaying the Facebook logo
Chesnot / Getty Images 

Communities continue to battle against Facebook’s anti-moderation philosophy exemplified by CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to provide a libertine experience for users, but these decisions have begun to impact the company in more immediate ways, causing concern among minority groups. 

Facebook continues to deal with fallout over its decision to allow right-wing activists and militia groups to organize counter-protests on the platform in response to the most recent Jacob Blake BLM uprising in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In response, non-binary software engineer Ashok Chandwaney resigned from the company, citing Facebook’s continued failure to curb hate and the spread of violent rhetoric.

"I’m not sure about Facebook. It’s slowly becoming a graveyard and I think people are getting disillusioned with the constant scandal."

"I'm quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organization that is profiting off hate in the US and globally," they wrote in their resignation letter published by The Washington Post. "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."

Parting Ways

Facebook’s lack of moderation and refusal to combat misinformation and hate on its platform has been an ongoing issue. For years, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dodged criticism from critics both outside and inside the company. Earlier this summer, hundreds of employees staged a virtual walkout in a rare moment of public criticism for Zuckerberg’s decision to allow inflammatory, violent posts by President Trump to circulate.

Chandwaney mentioned this in their letter of resignation as one of the chief motivating factors for their decision to leave: "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."

Mentioning President Trump’s now-viral tweet about the BLM protests this summer, they continued, saying, "Every day ‘The looting starts, the shooting starts’ stays up is a day that we choose to minimize regulatory risk at the expense of the safety of Black, Indigenous, and people of color."

Failure to Launch

Communities have long had issues with Facebook’s moderation policies, or lack thereof. In March, the company settled a $52 million lawsuit with moderators who suffered from diagnosed PTSD on the job.

Hate and violent videos circulate on the platform daily, and while moderators try their best to reduce their prevalence, it's impossible to curtail everything. This has caused closed groups to spring up to inoculate like-minded people or vulnerable communities from the ravishes of Facebook’s permissive social media philosophy.

The Black Simmer Facebook group has been a passion project of video game streamer and YouTuber Xmiramira. She created the virtual forum as a safe space for Black fans and custom content creators who play The Sims 4 to congregate and share experiences, opinions, mods, memes and everything in between.

Today, it boasts over 20,000 community members in its locked forum that is monitored by moderators and locked with a series of esoteric questions potential members need to answer before gaining admittance.

The Black Simmer Facebook Group

One of the newest members, Shanese Fontenot joined the community last month during the coronavirus pandemic after being introduced to the platform by a friend. Looking for a space to talk among fellow Simmers, the name affectionately given to fans of the popular video game franchise, what she found was something more important.

"It’s so funny and it’s exactly what I hoped I’d find," Fontenot said via Facebook direct message. "I generally just scroll through Facebook and post pictures, but with this community, I feel like I can speak more openly in a non-hostile environment. It's just, I don’t know, good vibes."

While the community has been a godsend, she expresses a sentiment that many others on Facebook have come to echo. The site's overall poor oversight has led many to flee the platform in fear of what they see as an oppressive platform or, at best, dangerous nonchalance.

Loss of Safety and Control

In 2018, Facebook suffered a massive backlash after a data breach by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica caused millions of Facebook users to have their sensitive information stored and harvested without consent. The data was shared with conservative politicians and misappropriated for their election campaigns, including the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

A post-scandal Pew Research survey found 26 percent of Americans deleted the app from their smartphones in 2018, signaling a sharp turn in the public’s relationship with the platform.

"I’m not sure about Facebook. It’s slowly becoming a graveyard and I think people are getting disillusioned with the constant scandal," Fontenot said. "If it wasn’t for my family connections and [The Black Simmer] I’d have deleted [Facebook] a long time ago... not worth it."