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Meta tells workers NOT to mention abortion on internal chat platforms

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 5/20/2022 Natasha Anderson For Dailymail.Com

Facebook employees were told to stop discussing abortion at work after the subject has become 'the most divisive and reported topic' on the company's internal chat system.

Executives at Meta, its parent company, allege abortion discussions on Workplace, an internal social media platform, have put the organization at 'an increased risk' of being seen as a 'hostile work environment,' The Verge reported.

VP of HR Janelle Gale, during a town hall meeting Thursday, told staff the abortion discussions isolate certain employees and are harmful to the work environment.

'Even if people are respectful, and they're attempting to be respectful about their view on abortion, it can still leave people feeling like they're being targeted based on their gender or religion,' she said. 'It's the one unique topic that kind of trips that line on a protected class pretty much in every instance.' 

Executives also argued that discussing abortion on company platforms was a violation of Meta's Respectful Communication Policy, which prohibits employees from discussing 'opinions or debates about abortion being right or wrong, availability or rights of abortion, and political, religious, and humanitarian views on the topic.' 

The policy, which has reportedly been in effect since 2019, has caused division among employees after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed the court has voted to strike down the landmark 1973 ruling Rove v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. 

Meta employees were told to stop discussing abortion at work after the subject has become 'the most divisive and reported topic' on the company's internal social media platform © Provided by Daily Mail Meta employees were told to stop discussing abortion at work after the subject has become 'the most divisive and reported topic' on the company's internal social media platform

Some Meta employees have called on management to eliminate the abortion policy, arguing that it contradicts rules allowing workers to talk 'respectfully' about other hot-button issues like Black Lives Matter, immigration and transgender rights. 

'The same policy explicitly allows us to discuss similarly sensitive issues and movements including immigration, trans rights, climate change, Black Lives Matter, gun rights / gun control, and vaccination,' a female employee, who worked at Meta for 10 years, argued, alleging the policy caused her to feel a 'strong sense of silence and isolation on Workplace.'  

'The argument about why our policy treats one issue quite differently than other sensitive issues feels flimsy and unconvincing to me,' she added. 'The entire process of dealing with the Respectful Communication policy, being told why my post is violating, and crafting this new post has felt dehumanizing and dystopian.' 

While many staff have expressed frustration about the apparent double standards surrounding 'respectful' content, The Verge reports that some workers have issued their support for banning discussions about the divisive topic. 

The policy, although in place for years, seems to be have poorly managed as Meta's number-two executive, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, herself, addressed Roe v Wade on her public Facebook page earlier this month.

Sandberg, in a post on May 3, responded to the leaked SCOTUS draft and called abortion 'one of our most fundamental rights.'


Video: Supporters of abortion rights rally in D.C., nationwide (The Washington Post)

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'Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother,' she posted. 'Few things are more important to women's health and equality.'

The day after she publicly supported Roe v Wade, Meta reportedly dropped the hammer and started enforcing the communications policy. 

Meta's number-two executive, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg addressed Roe v Wade on her public Facebook page earlier this month © Provided by Daily Mail Meta's number-two executive, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg addressed Roe v Wade on her public Facebook page earlier this month

At work, there are many sensitivities around this topic, which makes it difficult to discuss on Workplace,' senior executive Naomi Gleit wrote May 4 in an internal memo obtained by The Verge.

Gleit said employees could only discuss abortion at work with 'a trusted colleague in a private setting (e.g. live, chat, etc.)' and in a 'listening session with a small group of up to 5 like-minded people to show solidarity.' 

She encouraged staff to express their views on their personal social media accounts, but to refrain from doing so on work platforms. 

Gleit also reassured staff that Meta 'will continue to offer our employees access to reproductive healthcare in the U.S. regardless of where they live.'

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's looming decision to reverse Roe v. Wade has caused uproar across the U.S. 

Protesters have assembled at local, state and national government buildings, as well as outside certain SCOTUS justices' homes.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's looming decision to reverse Roe v. Wade has caused uproar across the U.S. Protesters have assembled at local, state and national government buildings, as well as outside certain SCOTUS justices' homes. PICTURED: May 14 abortion rally in DC © Provided by Daily Mail Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's looming decision to reverse Roe v. Wade has caused uproar across the U.S. Protesters have assembled at local, state and national government buildings, as well as outside certain SCOTUS justices' homes. PICTURED: May 14 abortion rally in DC

The federal government is preparing for a surge in political violence when SCOTUS officially rules in June on the abortion case that's expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A leaked Department of Homeland Security intelligence memo from May 13 says it expects threats that were levied against Supreme Court justices, clerks, lawmakers, clergy and health others are expected to increase in the coming weeks.

'DHS is committed to protecting Americans; freedom of speech and other civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest,' the agency said in a written response to questions about the memo. 

The memo warns that people 'across a broad range of various ... ideologies are attempting to justify and inspire attacks against abortion-related targets and ideological opponents at lawful protests.'

Twenty-six states are likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is formally overturned, essentially outlawing abortion in more than half of the country. Eighteen states already have restrictive abortion laws in place. 

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