Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, has announced the dissolution of its Responsible Innovation team, which was tasked with ensuring the products remain on the ethical side. The once prominent group was led by Vice President Margaret Gould Stewart.
In June 2021, Stewart wrote in a company blog post that the team was created to ‘help product teams identify potential harms across a broad spectrum of societal issues and dilemmas.’
She added that the team creates standards, tools, and guidance for responsible innovation practices across our apps and services.
The news of their disbanding comes at a time when big tech companies are scaling back hiring and cutting costs as inflation & low ad sales have started to take a toll on the big leagues.
Early this year, Zuckerberg announced the tech behemoth’s plan to stop hiring and warned that ‘it [economic recession] might be one of the worst downturns that we have seen in recent history.’
He also added that the company would brace to weed out non-performers who ‘cannot achieve the company’s aggressive goals.’
The Responsible Innovation Team, which consisted of roughly two dozen engineers, ethicists, and others who collaborated with product teams across the company, would be split up and most of those employees will be reassigned to other teams within the company, though their jobs are not guaranteed, Wall Street Journal reported.
Meta spokesman Eric Porterfield told WSJ that the company remains committed to the team’s goals. He also said that the company believed its safe and ethical product design resources were better spent on more issue-specific teams.
Last month, Meta laid off a group of 60 contractors who were reported to be selected at random by an algorithm.
The contractors were employed via Accenture in their Austin, US office, a company that has a deal worth nearly half a billion dollars a year to staff up the company with workers in content moderation and business integrity. The layoffs were announced during a video conference call.
Picture credits: Facebook