Twitter forum takedown feeds employee free speech debate
- A year ago, Twitter issued a takedown of posts anonymously submitted to its internal Q&A forum after an employee questioned the company's support of LGBTQ causes, Gizmodo reports.
- Before fall 2016, Twitter allowed employees to use the forum, called Falquora, with pseudonym accounts, says Gizmodo. Employees can still use the platform, but they must now use their real names. They can like or dislike a post, and the most popular posts are discussed during Tea Time, a town hall-style meeting.
- Leading up to Twitter's decision to delete some Falquora posts, the company conducted layoffs that some employees called ill-timed. Criticism of CEO Jack Dorsey and the anti-LGBT comment soon appeared on the platform; this was allegedly the final cause of Twitter's policy change, anonymous sources told Gizmodo.
The incident has once again stirred debate over the extent to which companies should monitor speech on internal platforms. The conversation has particular significance within Silicon Valley just weeks after Google's firing of an employee who posted a widely circulated message questioning his employer's actions concerning gender equality.
At the core of the debate is whether employers have the right to close down their own platforms because: 1) they might not agree with workers' comments, or free speech; and/or 2) employers don't think those comments should be made anonymously.
Right now, there's no law that restricts employers from doing either. But employers might want to think carefully before insisting that employees reveal their identity; sometimes anonymity gives workers the courage to bring up serious concerns about the workplace that employers need to address. Some experts question whether organizational diversity training programs may be to blame for such controversies, as they may not provide a structure that encourages problem solving.
Nonwork-related discussions on an employer's site could be a different matter. HR might need to restrict employees participation in discourse on in-house platforms that stirs up emotions or divides them, such as presidential campaign outcomes. Employee divisiveness is counter to organizations' mission to maintain a civil, respectful and team-oriented culture.