According to The Wall Street Journal (via Engadget), Facebook parent company Meta has dissolved its “Responsible Innovation Team.” The team reportedly was formed a few years ago to address the “potential harms to society” by Meta products.
The disbandment comes at a time when concerns about the social platform‘s practices toward teenagers and underage users are on the rise. The Responsible Innovation Team collaborated with the internal product teams, outside privacy specialists, academics, and users to see how Meta products affect society. Engineers and people who specialized in civil rights and ethics were the members of this team.
Of course, Meta spokesman Eric Porterfield confirmed that most members of the disbanded team would stay at the company and continue similar work in other departments. He also asserted that the “company remains committed to the team’s goals.”
Meta’s Responsible Innovation Team is gone forever
Disbanding the Responsible Innovation team could be a weird move by the company. Margaret Gould Stewart, Meta’s vice president and overseer of the team, said in a blog post last year that she was optimistic about her team’s efforts.
In the June 2021 blog post, she wrote. “We design our products with a privacy-first approach and partner with experts in civil rights, accessibility, human rights, and safety, as well as academic institutions, governments, and people who use our products, like you.”
Since then, the team has had many ups and downs. Earlier this year, Zvika Krieger, who was leading the team, left the company. Krieger said in an interview that the Responsible Innovation team’s efforts are “broader than other safety and integrity-related work at the company.” For example, he mentioned their role in changing the Facebook dating team’s decision “to avoid including a filter that would let users target or exclude potential love interests of a particular race.”
After rebranding the company to Meta, Mark Zuckerberg made major organizational changes in the company. Earlier this summer, the Responsible AI team was merged into the Social Impact team. More changes may come in the future.