Categories
Journalism

Facebook Parent Meta Announces Layoffs of 11,000 Staff

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Wednesday with my colleague Sam Schechner. It begins:

Meta Platforms Inc. said it would cut more than 11,000 workers, or 13% of staff, embarking on the company’s first broad restructuring as it copes with a slumping digital-ad market and plunging stock price.

The layoffs add to a wave of job cuts that are roiling Silicon Valley, where tech giants that added employees by the tens of thousands through the pandemic are now retrenching.

In a message to staff on Wednesday morning, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, would cut staff across all of its businesses, with its recruiting and business teams disproportionately affected. The company is also tightening its belt by reducing its office space, moving to desk-sharing for some workers and extending a hiring freeze through the first quarter of 2023.

“This is a sad moment, and there’s no way around that,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote, adding that he had been wrong in assuming that an increase in online activity during the pandemic would continue. “I got this wrong and I take responsibility for that.”

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My colleagues Jeff Horwitz and Salvador Rodriguez had the scoop Monday on the coming cuts.

Categories
India Journalism

Meta Officials Cite Security Concerns for Failing to Release Full India Hate-Speech Study

That’s the headline on my latest story, an exclusive out Wednesday. It begins:

Executives at Meta Platforms Inc. privately told rights groups that security concerns prevented them from releasing details of its investigation into hate speech on its services in India, according to audio recordings heard by The Wall Street Journal.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, in July released a four-page summary of a human-rights impact assessment on India, its biggest market by users, where it has faced accusations of failing to adequately police hate speech against religious minorities. The India summary was part of the company’s first global human-rights report. The 83-page global report offers detailed findings of some previous investigations; it included only general descriptions of its India assessment, which disappointed some rights advocates.

“This is not the report that the human-rights team at Meta wanted to publish, we wanted to be able to publish more,” Iain Levine, a Meta senior human-rights adviser, said during private online briefings with rights groups in late July after the summary was released, according to the recordings.

“A decision was made at the highest levels of the company based upon both internal and external advice that it was not possible to do so for security reasons,” he said.

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Categories
Tech

Roblox Poaches Seasoned Meta Executive as It Chases Growth in Asia

That’s the headline on my newest story, an exclusive with my colleague Sarah Needleman, out Friday. It begins:

HONG KONG—Roblox Corp. has poached a Meta Platforms Inc. executive for the newly created role of Asia-Pacific head of public policy, as the videogame company chases growth in the region.

Steve Park, the longtime government relations head for South Korea and Japan at Facebook’s parent company, will join Roblox next week, a spokeswoman for the San Mateo, Calif.-based company said.

Mr. Park has been at Meta for more than eight years and in a previous position worked on the company’s Oculus virtual-reality business, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Mr. Park declined to comment on his appointment, referring queries to the Roblox spokeswoman.

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Categories
Journalism Tech

Amazon Sues Administrators of More Than 10,000 Facebook Groups Over Fake Reviews

That’s the headline on a story I wrote Tuesday. It begins:

Amazon.com Inc. said it filed a lawsuit against the administrators of what it says are more than 10,000 Facebook groups used to coordinate fake reviews of Amazon products.

Those in charge of the Facebook groups solicit the reviews for items ranging from camera tripods to car stereos in exchange for free products or money, Amazon said in a statement.

The activity, which is against Amazon’s rules, occurs across Amazon’s stores in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan, the company said. Such bogus reviews are typically used to boost products’ ratings and increase the likelihood customers buy them.

The lawsuit represents “proactive legal action targeting bad actors,” Amazon Vice President Dharmesh Mehta said.

My colleague Nicole Nguyen wrote last year about the problem of inauthentic reviews on Amazon.

And she has a new story out Wednesday, in the wake of Amazon’s suit, with tips on spotting fake reviews.

Categories
Journalism Tech

Facebook Parent Meta Details Human-Rights Efforts

I’m late in sharing it here, but that’s the headline on a story I wrote last week with my colleague Salvador Rodriguez. It begins:

Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. released its first annual report Thursday on the effect its services have on global human rights, highlighting its efforts to combat challenges including human trafficking, the spread of misinformation and attacks on election integrity.

Facebook’s global operations are drawing scrutiny from rights groups and regulators. While user growth has stalled in rich countries, it continues to expand internationally, especially in populous, developing markets.

You may recall I wrote in November about Facebook’s India human rights impact assessment, a separate report that was commissioned some time ago. Rights groups told me they believed Facebook was trying to stifle it.

This newest report contains a summary of the India HRIA. The HRIA was done by a law firm Facebook commissioned to do the work. Facebook says it has no plans to release the HRIA in its entirety.

That’s drawn more criticism from groups that contributed to the HRIA. One called Facebook’s decision “deeply disappointing.”

You can read Facebook’s full human rights report on their website here. The India material begins on page 57.