Facebook said it will prohibit employees from debating social issues on parts of its internal messaging service and start moderating discussions when they occur more widely, amid growing internal rows over political and social issues.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, told staff said this would give workers the option to engage in matters like racial discrimination or pay inequality on their own terms rather than feeling pressured into to voicing their opinion in front of others.
A spokesman who confirmed the update to Facebook's policies said: "We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed."
Clashes over politics are becoming more frequent across Silicon Valley workers and internal memos are increasingly being leaked externally, revealing turmoil within the ranks of the social media company, which holds itself as a bastion of freedom of expression. Widespread working from home within the company has meant more staff voicing their opinion on internal message boards.
Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist who was fired earlier this month, posted a memo on her last day in which she claimed the social media giant had often ignored evidence of fake accounts undermining the political process of nations globally.
The new rules, the exact details of which are yet to be worked out ahead of a larger announcement next week, include making it more clear which parts of Workplace, version of Facebook use for businesses, can be used to discuss certain topics, and assigning employees to monitor conversations to ensure abusive and offensive comments are filtered out.
It comes as Google tightens rules on its own internal message boards, after a rise in posts flagged by workers as racist or abusive, according to a CNBC report.
Google cracked down on internal political discussions in 2019, in a departure from its culture of openness among staff. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin often discussed politics with staff and encouraged debate, but since they stood down from their executive roles, with Sundar Pichai as their replacement, the company has taken on a more buttoned-up corporate stance when it comes to expression of opinion.