Facebook Doing Damage Control After Top Exec Supports Kavanaugh

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In short: Facebook entered damage control mode after a top executive attended Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing held last month. The company's Global Policy Head, Joel Kaplan, sat at Judge Kavanaugh's side while he was defending himself against accusations of sexual harassment raised by Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University. Many Facebook employees were disgruntled by the fact, having consequently flooded the company's internal boards with concerns. In a statement released earlier this week, a spokesperson said the firm's "leadership team recognizes that they've made mistakes handling the events" surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing. Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed as the new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States with a 50-48 vote held yesterday.

Background: As is the case with the majority of American tech giants, Facebook's workforce is predominantly liberal, whereas Judge Kavanaugh's nomination and subsequent appointment to the SCOTUS has been seen as a power play by the GOP due to the 53-year-old's largely conservative views on abortion and presidential powers. Employee activism stemming from Mr. Kaplan's move hence isn't surprising, even though Facebook's executive defended his hearing appearance as a personal decision, describing Judge Kavanaugh, his wife, and their children as family friends. Google also had recent issues with employee activism revolving around the controversial Project Maven and is now once again facing similar problems due to its widely reported ambitions to launch a censored version of Search for China.

Impact: Despite facing some backlash from Facebook employees, Mr. Kaplan's decision may actually help Facebook soften criticism from the political right in the U.S. that claims the Internet juggernaut is biased against conservative views, a notion that it strongly denied on several occasions. The latest development is unlikely to see the company tighten its grasp over its executives as reports suggest that despite acknowledging the aforementioned "mistakes," Facebook remains adamant that all of its employees are free to pursue legitimate political goals in their free time.

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