Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent comments criticizing China have reportedly caused ill will amongst Facebook’s large community of Chinese employees.
The Information reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increasingly aggressive stance on Beijing’s free-speech policies may be causing tension between the CEO and Facebook’s Chinese employees. During a speech at Georgetown University recently, Zuckerberg criticized the moderating practices of Chinese-owned firms such as TikTok. According to the report, many of Facebook’s newer Chinese employees were hired directly from communist China, and are “unapologetically supportive of the Chinese government.”
Zuckerberg stated during the speech: “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the China-based app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the US. Is that the internet we want?”
Zuckerberg continued to state: “Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team and are not influenced by any foreign government. The Chinese government does not request that TikTok censor content, and would not have jurisdiction regardless, as TikTok does not operate there. To be clear: We do not remove videos based on the presence of Hong Kong protest content.”
Zuckerberg’s comments, combined with Facebook board member Peter Thiel’s claims that Google has been “infiltrated” by Chinese operatives, calling the firm “treasonous,” have reportedly led to increased tensions at Facebook. The situation has also reportedly been exacerbated by the suicide of a Chinese Facebook employee at the firms HQ in San Francisco in September.
A Chinese Facebook engineer was also reportedly fired in October after being instructed to stop discussing his colleague’s death; his post attacking Facebook for its handling of the situation went viral on Chinese social media networks.