A Facebook software engineer resigned and publicly criticized the company Tuesday, accusing Facebook of “profiting off hate.”
In a letter detailing their decision to quit, Ashok Chandwaney cited some of Facebook’s recent actions as breaking points that led them to quit. Specifically, Chandwaney called out Facebook’s failure to remove a militia group’s event inciting violence against protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as well as its choice not to remove a post by President Donald Trump that said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Several Facebook employees have left the company in recent months after voicing similar concerns — at least three left in the span of a week after CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees the company would not remove Trump’s “shooting” post. Those grievances build on years of scandals at Facebook, including its role in enabling Russian election interference, Cambridge Analytica spying, and a genocide in Myanmar.
Chandwaney, who is gender nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, laid out their reasons for leaving the company in a public Facebook post Tuesday. They also detailed their decision to quit in an interview with The Washington Post, and published a copy of their resignation letter to Facebook’s internal employee message board Tuesday morning.
“I’m quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organization that is profiting off hate in the US and globally,” Chandwaney wrote. “It seems that Facebook hasn’t found the business value to be had in aggressively pursuing the existing credible strategies to remove hate from the platform.”
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment (the company typically doesn’t comment on personnel matters).
Chandwaney didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Facebook has taken steps in recent months geared towards cracking down on hate speech and content that glorifies violence — the company recently implemented a ban on militia groups and commissioned a civil rights audit of its platform. But in their resignation letter, Chandwaney said Facebook’s recent moves appeared more motivated by PR than a willingness to change. Chandwaney added that they have become disillusioned with Facebook’s stated mission to “build social value.”
“I’ve heard numerous, unsatisfying explanations for how the various things I’ve worked on here has been building social value,” they wrote. “In all my roles across the company, at the end of the day, the decisions have actually come down to business value.”
Software engineers are among the most sought-after and highest-paid Facebook employees, according to salary data.
Chandwaney wrote in their resignation letter that they were motivated in part by the work of Color of Change, an activist group that has pressured Facebook to take a harsher stance on content moderation and remove content like Trump’s “looting” post. Color of Change president Rashad Robinson applauded Chandwaney’s letter in a statement Tuesday.
“Color Of Change is happy to support them, but it’s a shame Facebook employees feel the need to turn to civil rights organizations to protect communities of color, rather than their own employer,” Robinson said in a statement.