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Faking Happiness at Facebook

Former employees say company maintains a "cult-like" culture that discourages dissenting opinions.

Culture Beat · Jan. 11, 2019

Life at Facebook isn’t all sweetness and “likes,” according to recent comments from several former employees. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who’s known for regularly repeating the mantra of people needing to be their “authentic self,” appears to be demanding just the opposite from her employees.

It’s “cult-like,” said one former employee. Another former manager who left Facebook in early 2018 stated, “I never felt it was an environment that truly encouraged ‘authentic self’ and encouraged real dissent because the times I personally did it, I always got calls.” Another individual who left the company in 2017 noted, “What comes with scale and larger operations is you can’t afford to have too much individual voice. If you have an army, the larger the army is, the less individuals have voice. They have to follow the leader.”

Granted, it’s rarely hard to find folks willing to knock their former employer. But a recent company town hall event also proved to expose Facebook’s group-think culture. One employee stated, “I was reticent to speak, Sheryl [Sandberg], because the pressure for us to act as though everything is fine and that we love working here is so great it hurts. There shouldn’t be this pressure to pretend to love something when I don’t feel this way.”

CNBC writes, “The company’s culture of no-dissent prevented employees from speaking up about the impact that News Feed had on influencing the 2016 U.S. election,” a former employee claimed. “The message was clear in August 2016 when the company laid off the editorial staff of its trending news team, shortly after some workers on that team leaked to the press that they were suppressing conservative-leaning stories. Employees were further discouraged from speaking up following the election, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg brushed off the accusation that Facebook could have impacted the election, calling that idea ‘crazy.’”

In short, it’s no surprise that a company that suppresses the speech of others does the same to its own employees.

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