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Facebook limits employee access to certain internal newsgroups


Facebook said it was also taking action to tackle harassment and bullying on its social platform.


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josh edelson / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

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told employees he was tightening controls on some internal newsgroups, a move that comes after Frances Haugen, a former employee, assembled documents that formed the basis of the Wall Street Journal series of Facebook files showing that the company’s platforms are riddled with flaws that can cause harm.

Facebook offers staff online discussion groups on an internal messaging system called Workplace, where staff can cooperate or exchange ideas. In a note to employees on Tuesday, the social media giant said it would restrict who can see group discussions on topics such as platform security and election integrity, the company confirmed. The decision to restrict access to internal data was reported earlier Wednesday by The New York Times.

“Leaks decrease the effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the teams that work every day to meet the challenges of operating a platform for billions of people,” Facebook said in a statement. The company said such disclosures “can also endanger employees working on sensitive topics outside and lead to complex, distorted and misunderstood topics.”

Ms Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on Facebook, has viewed thousands of corporate documents, some of which have also been shared with Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

She also sought federal whistleblower protection with the SEC.

Facebook has already wondered how to manage its internal chat system. Last year, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company would work to curb internal debate on controversial political and social issues after a series of disputes and criticism that fueled discord among staff members . As part of that effort, the company planned to clarify which parts of the company’s internal messaging platform are acceptable for such discussions, and that those discussions would be carefully moderated when they do occur.

Separately, Facebook said on Wednesday it was taking steps to tackle harassment and bullying on its platform and to remove content considered to be a sexualized attack on a public figure.

“It’s important that everyone on our apps feel safe to engage and connect with their communities,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of security, said in a blog post.

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Appeared in the October 14, 2021 print edition under the headline “Facebook Tightens Employee Access.”