According to a recent report, it may turn out that Facebook employees have much more to worry about when it comes to their off-time activities than many of the world's employees do with regard to what they share on Facebook. In fact, as recently as 2016 the company is alleged to have fired at least two employees contracted from outside the company for a conversation one had with a journalist about two company memos. The memos themselves were not insignificant, with consideration for the current and recent controversies surrounding the company. But they are arguably comparatively uninteresting. One pertained to what the company labeled defacement of property. An employee had crossed out another's message and replaced it with their own. The other was regarding questions employees wanted answers to at an upcoming all-hands meeting and one question that was substantially upvoted asked: "What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?" Facebook's response to the leak is far more interesting not because of the employee's firing but because of the lengths the company went to stop leaks of seemingly mundane, albeit divisive, memos.
For starters, the leaks don't appear to have been discovered because the employee in question was leaking the information and screenshots through the company's own services. Instead, when the employee is alleged to have ultimately been called out by Facebook's head of investigations, Sonya Ahuja, copies of Google Talk conversations were provided as evidence of his involvement. What's more, one of Fearnow's fellow employees – Ryan Villarreal – was also let go despite claiming to have had no involvement at all except by association. Villarreal had shared an apartment with the journalist who wrote up the stories several years prior to the leaks and had liked one of the articles written about the memos.
Unfortunately, there's no way to know for sure whether Villarreal took part in taking screenshots or leaking information about memos. Furthermore, it isn't uncommon for a business to respond negatively when internal information is leaked. With that said Facebook's response seems to have gone a bit overboard. In fact, the incident seems to have shaken employees to near the point of paranoia. As many as 51 former and current Facebook employees interviewed for the new report are said to have requested anonymity. Some went so far as to ask that interviewers turned off the location services on their own devices before agreeing to talk, citing fears that the company might discover that their handset had been near the handset of a journalist – and subsequently fire them. That's a concerning turn for the internal culture of any company to take, let alone one centered in technologies-based communications which also happens to tout itself as an open platform for free expression with very few limitations.