Behind The Screens, Facebook Is Still Going For Scale Over Safety

Facebook has always preferred to grow at any cost. Mark Zuckerberg wanted his company to be bigger and better, but with the mentality of “going big”, Facebook has only landed itself into scandals of election meddling, political discord, security breaches and privacy invasion. After all the troubles they apologized and promised to solve the issues but in reality, the mentality of prioritizing scale hasn’t changed much.

According to BuzzFeedNews, the company continues to evaluate the product managers based on how well they are growing their products and not caring about the impact of them onto the users around the world. In fact, you would also be surprised to know that the meaning of “impact” for Facebook is internal growth instead of external consequences.

This in return has also encouraged employees to go all in for growth above everything else and boost their worth as well. This approach of Facebook was shared by one ex–product manager who told that Facebook made him learn about reprogramming humans. It made him realize that one can actually make humans override all their values, which honestly is terrifying.

Now the system which was described by the product manager was based on two components which were the point of concerns for others working in the company as well; Facebook’s data science team and its performance evaluation system.

The data science team working at the company has years of data ready for disposal, which they further use to decide how much should the product really grow. Facebook’s product team then set up goals every six months in the process that is tentatively titled “roadmap planning”. If the product managers are able to hit the target, only then Facebook regard it as “impact” and it eventually jumps to higher percentages.

Once the evaluation process is over, every individual gets a rating by the manager - which usually go from “doesn’t meet expectations” to “redefines expectations” and thus is also tied to the compensations with algorithms. The good thing however is that raises occur evenly for managers based on ratings and no one has to worry about discretionary raise pools. Moreover, there are no appeals which in the end means that good rating is the only paramount.

Some Facebook employees think otherwise and are not in favor of this system and one of them includes Charles Obih. The ex-employee has been blunt about how the system can be manipulated and is not perfect. He went with the reason that if someone knows that his rating is attached to the pay and promotion as well, then people would start focusing solely on getting good ratings.

Facebook while defending this stated that their performance evaluations focus on recognizing and rewarding both short and long-term work. In fact, the company believes that product managers can’t achieve the impact without being collaborative. So, how the managers get their jobs done does matter.

The first ex product manager hinted towards how the team manages Facebook pages as the system in that category too focuses on increase in “monthly active businesses”. So, as soon as any of the Facebook page administrators used Facebook tools for any reason, the page used to get counted as “active”. Along with that, the team also kept in sending notifications just to encourage the admins to sign back in and keep the page active for the metric - knowing that this would annoy users.

As Facebook continues to grow its user base, the after effects of it can be seen on the News Feed as it is getting filled with hatred, sensationalism and even fake news. When this has gotten out of hand for the users, Mark Zuckerberg’s defense strategy seems to be working with the following words “When you’re building something at this scale, solutions take a good amount of time, I don’t think me or anyone else can come in and have these issues resolved in a quarter or half year."

But in the end Facebook operates as a publicly traded company and therefore people losing interest would mean a significant decline for the shareholders as well. Hence you will always find Facebook focusing on growth in terms of the quantity of IDs. Of course discussions do happen on what’s happening around but are just not as frequent and with the aim to bring a change just like the competitors, Google.

Yes, Facebook did make some notable changes its bonus system recently, especially how the company has moved to factor in social progress from emphasizing on engagement. But we are yet to see Mark Zuckerberg going for meaningful social interactions with genuine effort.

Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

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