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20 May, 2022 19:47

Meta restricts abortion discussion – media

A company speech policy bars workers from discussing the issue lest Meta become a ‘hostile work environment’
Meta restricts abortion discussion – media

Meta employees have been warned against discussing abortion on Workplace, the company’s internal Facebook clone, workers told The Verge on Thursday. To justify the ban on discussing the topic, which has apparently been in place since 2019, the company cited an “increased risk” that the company would be seen as a “hostile work environment.

The rule in question bars employees from talking about “opinions or debates about abortion being right or wrong, availability or rights of abortion, and political, religious and humanitarian views on the topic,” the company’s “Respectful Communication Policy” states, according to The Verge. 

While some employees back the policy, others have gone so far as to demand that management scrap it altogether in light of the recently-leaked draft opinion currently being passed around the Supreme Court, noting that it also runs contrary to company policy on other controversial issues including Black Lives Matter, the immigration debate, and LGBT issues.

Human resources VP Janelle Gale argued during an all-hands meeting on Thursday that abortion was “the most divisive and reported topic” by employees in Workplace, pointing out that “even if people are respectful, and they’re attempting to be respectful about their view on abortion, it can still leave people feeling like they’re being targeted based on their gender or religion.” The subject is “the one unique topic that kind of trips that line on a protected class pretty much in every instance,” she claimed.

Gale’s views were by no means universally shared – several comments about the policy posted by employees were censored over the course of the meeting – but senior executive Naomi Gleit reportedly agreed with Gale’s conclusions in an internal post, explaining that “at work, there are many sensitivities around this topic, which makes it difficult to discuss on Workplace.”

Meta employees are only permitted to discuss the topic “with a trusted colleague in a private setting (e.g. live, chat, etc.)” or “in a listening session with a small group of up to 5 like-minded people to show solidarity.” Employees should instead use Meta apps in their personal capacity and take comfort in the fact that the corporation pays for their reproductive healthcare no matter where in the US they live, Gleit said.

The public face of Meta is very much pro-choice. COO Sheryl Sandberg calls abortion “one of our most fundamental rights” on her own Facebook page, declaring that “every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother.” 

However, a 10-year veteran of Meta and its predecessor Facebook wrote in another internal post that the company’s stifling speech policy on the topic of abortion had caused her to feel “a strong sense of silence and isolation on Workplace,” pointing out that a previous attempt to share those sentiments had been removed and describing the process of “dealing with the Respectful Communication policy” as “dehumanizing and dystopian.”