At a regular Facebook meeting last week, Zuckerberg asked employees not to leak our internal conversations to the media. The leak is a real annoyance for Zuckerberg, and it’s been going on for years. Almost every time Facebook’s meetings and executives answer, the day appears in the media reports, even a word-for-word retelling.
Leaks make Zuckerberg mad
He convened the internal Town Hall conference to demonstrate transparency in corporate governance, to inform employees about company decisions and to talk to executives on an equal footing, but now it has become a window into the differences within Facebook.
Privately to the media to blow the air company insider, this kind of behavior is right? Many people don’t agree with this behavior. “These people’s disclosure of inside information to the media has had a negative impact on Facebook and hurt the company,” they said. It also violates the company’s employee code and should be punished. “Facebook has recently been in a very passive position because of Zuckerberg’s refusal to deal with Trump’s controversial remarks, which has been met with a round of mainstream media coverage and constant criticism of online public opinion.
But some disagree. They feel that this kind of leakage is to introduce external supervision pressure when there is a problem with the internal correction mechanism, forcing the company to take measures to correct the current problem. In the long run, this is conducive to the company’s sustainable development. Without media coverage and public pressure, Facebook may become obsessed with business interests and ignore the social responsibility that social platforms should have.
Insider stoe has always been an important means of American media supervision. Without the “sources” who leak inside information, the media would not have been able to write exclusive inside information, nor would the public be able to know the real situation behind the hot-button events. There is no better case of this than the deep throat of Watergate. The then FBI deputy director continued to give the Washington Times inside counsel and guidance for a variety of reasons and ideas, which eventually led to the Nixon administration being forced to resign under impeachment pressure.
Of course, it is clearly a violation of the employee code to give an unauthorized interview to the media about internal company information and to disclose the company’s internal information to the media in private. Once discovered by the company, these employees are bound to be disciplined and fired, and serious lawsuits may be filed. Such incidents are not uncommon among Silicon Valley technology companies. In 2017 alone, Apple caught 29 leakers, 12 of whom were arrested.
Apple threatens to sue leaking employees
When it comes to Silicon Valley’s culture of secrecy, it’s impossible not to mention Apple. Mr. Jobs has developed a well-established confidentiality mechanism for Apple, which tightly controls employees’ access to information. Employees don’t know what other groups of colleagues are working on, or access to office areas in different departments, or even talk in specific areas. Only a very small number of employees can bring the engineering machine out of the company for testing. Ironically, in a very small number of people, there was a major leak of the loss of the iPhone 4 in 2010.
It is this highly secretive product culture that ensures the mystery of Apple’s new release. Before the first iPhone was released in 2007, only 13 people had seen the final product, which would have been unthinkable at any company. In 2010, an Apple employee showed the iPad to co-founder Steve Wozniak the day before the launch, and was also mercilessly fired because Watts was no longer working at Apple. But interestingly, the Apple employee who lost his engineering machine didn’t lose his job.
Jobs also created a surveillance team at Apple dedicated to catching ghosts. They will even take the active way of leaking “fishing”, that is, the suspected leak of employees grouped, the initiative to send different groups of different product information, to see what information the media exposure to know which group of suspects leak. Usually only two or three operations, you can accurately lock the “inner ghost”.
Apple’s new products in the Cook era were almost no secret, and most of them were known before they were released. However, the leak channel is mainly Apple’s growing number of suppliers. Guo Ming, a well-known Apple analyst. The reason for predicting Apple’s new products many times is also due to his connections to the electronics industry chain in Taiwan. For these external suppliers, although Apple also has the terms of the contract to include restrictions and penalties, it is ultimately defensive.
Apple may also be penalizing the worst Silicon Valley companies. In March 2018, Apple posted an online message warning employees not to disclose inside company information or face legal and even criminal charges. Apple said it had seized 29 leakers in the past year, 12 of whom were arrested, including regular and outsourcing employees. “Not only do these people lose their jobs, but they also face great difficulties in finding other jobs. Some may even face jail terms and substantial compensation. However, the media quickly reported the article, apparently sent to the media.
Apple did not release the names of the leakers, but listed the main cases of their leaks. Among the most serious acts were the mention by Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software, at an internal development meeting in 2017 that parts of the iPhone’s software might be delayed, and that some of the attendees leaked them to the media, and even the insider’s early leak of Apple’s package, which involved the yet-to-release iPhone X.
Google encourages employees to report to each other
Google is clearly Silicon Valley’s most transparent company and has led a change in the culture of Internet companies, but internal transparency does not mean that Google tolerates employee leaks. Over the past few years, Google has repeatedly warned its employees that “leaks, whether intentional or unintentional, can destroy our culture.” In the wake of a series of leaks, Google has also taken a hard line, proactively monitoring, finding and punishing leakers.
In 2016, Google introduced a series of new confidentiality policies, which even prohibit employees from disclosing to lawyers suspected of breaking the law within the company, so as not to be later verified by law enforcement or regulators. To catch the ghosts, Google has even set up a dedicated mailbox for employees to report potential leaks to colleagues. That year, Google fired a product manager who leaked internal posts. He later filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the company’s confidentiality measures were allegedtobe in violation of labor laws. The case was later closed, presumably as a settlement between the parties.
In October 2019, Bloomberg reported that Google had forced a plug-in on Chrome on employees’ computers that would automatically be reported when employees created a 100-person calendar event. Many employees worry that Google is monitoring possible protests by employees after they blocked a collective strike by hundreds of people to protest the company’s mishandling of internal sexual harassment. But after media reports, Google explained that the plugin was designed to avoid useless schedule information.
Soon Google was looking for people who broke the news to Bloomberg. More than half a month later, Google fired the leaked employee and suspended two other employees. In response to media inquiries, Google said the employee violated the company’s employee code by disclosing internal company documents to the media, while the other two privately shared inside company information and tracked schedule information from other departments, creating a sense of insecurity among employees in those departments.
Google last year changed its once-a-month TGIF internal staff meeting to a monthly meeting that was product-focused and no longer involves sensitive policy and political content because of a series of employee leaks. In addition, Google has imposed restrictions on viewing meeting minutes and videos, and employees need to register to view meeting minutes. The TGIF conference was originally Google’s signature convention to show its transparency. Of course, it was also learned that this was also due to Google employees sending emails to the media from Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive.
Values are the main driving force
If past technology company leaks have been mostly private disclosure of product technology and inside information to the media, then the past few years of U.S. technology companies leaks, more and more related to values issues. This is particularly evident in Internet companies. Compared to other areas, Internet company employees are more focused on the values of the corporate platform and more socially responsible.
Perhaps embarrassing lying for Google, their well-known “no evil” maxim has instead prompted Google employees to have a more “righteous sense” of putting their own moral code above Google’s business interests, and frequently blowing up the media. When they find that a company’s business decisions or internal culture do not conform to one or the prevailing values and may have a negative impact on society, many employees tend to violate employee codes and seek media coverage and public opinion intervention.
In 2018 alone, Google employees have revealed to the media a number of controversial product projects, including the Drone Vision Technology program, a partnership between Google and the Pentagon, and the Chinese search product program code-named “Sho” in China. At best, Brin and Picchay spoke at the inside meeting, and minutes later the New York Times published their remarks on Twitter. Eventually, under collective pressure from internal staff and media exposure, Google eventually abandoned the projects.
In addition to Google, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon and Tesla have seen serious internal leaks in the past two years. Nowhere has it been more frequently exposed than Facebook, which is embroiled in a political battle between the two factions in the United States. Almost every Facebook internal meeting, intranet article, and internal mail, when it comes to political events, is bound to be covered in detail by the media.
It is clear that Facebook’s liberal majority is increasingly dissatisfied with Zuckerberg’s efforts to “ride the wall” over the past two years. That discontent has culminated in recent trump controversy. Since the 2016 election, Facebook’s management has been under apparent pressure from Republican governments to offend conservative political forces, “can ignore” right-wing controversial rhetoric, introduce far-right media outlet Breitbart in “credible news sources” and even start sponsoring Republican conservatives.
Unable to change the company’s position, more and more Facebook employees are seeking media exposure. In 2018, Facebook’s “inside ghost” provided hundreds of pages of in-house training documents and emails to the New York Times, Vice, ProPublica and other left-wing media outlets, leaking Facebook’s content controls.
Of course, it’s not just liberals who are leaking. Although Silicon Valley’s conservativepopulations are small, they also turn to outside media outlets to expose their own companies. In September 2018, Google insiders leaked a video of Google’s management’s response to the 2016 presidential election to the right-wing media outlet Breitbart, and in October, an email from Google’s cross-cultural marketing department, Tucker Carson, a right-wing fox television host, was sent to discuss how to help Latino voters vote.
In July 2017, James Damore, a Software Engineer at Google, published a 10-page blog post on the internet questioning the significance of Google’s crackdown on conservative free speech and the company’s employee diversity policy. Mr. Dahmer even argues that women in the tech industry are less likely to be discriminated against, but because men are better suited to tech jobs. Some infuriated Google employees publicly refuted the incident on Twitter, and more leaked the full text of the blog post to Vice’s Board Mother.
The incident immediately sparked a huge controversy, and Google quickly fired Mr. Dahmer. Mr Picchay said the controversial comments in the blog post violated the company’s employee code. The latter filed a lawsuit arguing that Google’s crackdown on its right-wing political views amounted to discrimination. The two sides did not reach a settlement until last month, and the terms were not disclosed.