Protocol | Workplace

Why do so many ex-Facebookers stay silent?

One former member of the civic integrity team speaks up to explain.

Code overlaid on a shushing face

Non-disparagement agreements and more are keeping ex-Facebookers from speaking up.

Image: Markus Spiske/Kristina Flour/Protocol

In the wake of the Facebook Papers, people across tech are wondering: Why aren't ex-employees speaking up about the revelations coming out about their former company? In short: NDAs and fear, according to one former Facebook employee.


That former employee, Samidh Chakrabarti, who until about six weeks ago helped lead the civic integrity team at Facebook, sounded off in a Twitter thread about the reasons others like him may not be so vocal right now, as the company takes heat from all sides on everything from inaction on serious issues, allegedly stealing ideas from other apps, to a persistent engineering hiring crisis.

According to Chakrabarti, people aren't talking for two reasons, the first being that many of them have signed non-disparagement exit agreements that effectively muzzle them. Chakrabarti included a screenshot of the agreement in question, pointing out that he was "offered a ton of $ to sign, yet refused," because he wanted to preserve his voice.

The other reason former Facebookers aren't talking? The social stigma that surrounds speaking up. "If you've spent years at the company, many of your friends are your coworkers. They now become afraid to talk to you. They ignore you at coffee shops. Even when they agree with you, they can feel betrayed and don't want to risk association w/ you. Your social circle collapses," wrote Chakrabarti on Twitter.

Being a truth-teller can also potentially hurt your future career prospects, he wrote: "Few firms want to hire people who they think would dare be truthful about them later on."

NDAs have traditionally been a controversial part of work agreements both in tech and beyond. That controversy came to a head in August when legislation passed in California that would bar companies from requiring workers to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing those workers from speaking up about illegal discrimination and harassment. Most of the tech giants have so far stayed silent on the Silenced No More Act, with companies including Facebook withholding comment on the law when it was first introduced.

The pandemic permanently changed Black Friday. Here’s how.

Here are the five biggest trends that will affect Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.

Here are the five biggest trends that will affect Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.

Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Click banner image for more Shopping Week coverage

Shopping is changing. It's not just the influence of COVID-19 altering what products we buy and how we buy them. It's also the many shifts in consumer behavior and retailer strategy — from the steady rise of ecommerce to the boom of on-demand delivery — years in the making, which have all been accelerated by the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that by 2026, the shortage of engineers in the U.S. will exceed 1.2 million, while 545,000 software developers will have left the market by that time. Meanwhile, business is becoming increasingly more digital-first, and teams need the tools in place to keep distributed teams aligned and able to respond quickly to changing business needs. That means businesses need to build powerful workplace applications without relying on developers.

In fact, according to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies and, by 2023, there will be at least four times as many active citizen developers as professional developers at large enterprises. We're on the cusp of a big shift in how businesses operate and how organization wide innovation happens.

Keep Reading Show less
Andrew Ofstad
As Airtable’s co-founder, Andrew spearheads Airtable’s long-term product bets and represents the voice of the customer in major product decisions. After co-founding the company, he helped scale Airtable’s original product and engineering teams. He previously led the redesign of Google's flagship Maps product, and before that was a product manager for Android.

It’s time to rethink Black Friday

The pandemic didn't end Black Friday, but it'll never look the same again.

We can expect Black Friday to stick around but lose relevance as retailers effectively dilute its meaning and purpose.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Click banner image for more Shopping Week coverage

"I'm selling meditation, so I shouldn't be stressed," said Charlie Rousset, the co-founder of sleep and relaxation gadget-maker Morphée. But even deep breathing can't help Rousset feel less on edge this Black Friday.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

The pandemic permanently changed Black Friday. Here’s how.

Here are the five biggest trends that will affect Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.

Here are the five biggest trends that will affect Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.

Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Click banner image for more Shopping Week coverage

Shopping is changing. It's not just the influence of COVID-19 altering what products we buy and how we buy them. It's also the many shifts in consumer behavior and retailer strategy — from the steady rise of ecommerce to the boom of on-demand delivery — years in the making, which have all been accelerated by the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.
Protocol | Fintech

The pandemic keeps changing ecommerce. That makes fraud harder to fight.

As the second holiday season under COVID-19 gets underway, fraud finds new forms.

Online fraud is frustrating consumers and merchants.

Photo: fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Click banner image for more Shopping Week coverage

The second pandemic holiday shopping season is underway. That means cybersecurity experts get another chance to figure out how fraudsters operate in the COVID era.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Latest Stories