Facebook’s Employee Bonuses Now Hinge on ‘Social’ Progress

February 6, 2019, 12:10 AM UTC

Facebook’s nearly 36,000 employees are about to be judged on a whole new metric: The company’s ability to tackle problems like misinformation and hate speech on its service.

Previously, Facebook’s employee bonus formula was based on six factors, including user growth, increased sharing by users, and improvements in product quality. Now the company is adjusting its bonus calculations to better reflect its updated goals, outlined by CEO Mark Zuckerberg during Facebook’s most recent quarterly earnings call on Jan. 30.

Those goals are to make progress on the major social issues facing the company; build new experiences that improve people’s lives today and set the stage for bigger improvements in the future; build Facebook’s business by supporting the businesses that rely on its services; and communicate better about the company and its role in the world. The shift is at least partly driven by the desire to incentivize workers to prioritize safety and security on the platform.

The change to the bonus structure was announced by Zuckerberg at an all-hands meeting at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters Tuesday morning, one day after the company celebrated its 15th anniversary. According to the company, none of the new, individual factors are “assigned any specific weighting or dollar amount of the target bonus,” leaving the exact formula up to its compensation and governance committee.

Facebook has been under mounting pressure from consumers, advocacy groups and regulators to clamp down on illicit content and privacy breaches. As a result, it now has more than 30,000 people working on safety and security (some of these are contractors), up from 10,000 a couple of years ago, and it has increasingly tried to showcase its commitment to fixing its problems.

The change to the bonus structure is the company’s latest effort to get ahead of its recent woes. But it’s not yet clear exactly how Facebook will measure any improvements on its “social issues,” and therefore what any potential impact there would be to employee compensation.

In a call with Fortune Tuesday afternoon, Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said there isn’t an easy formula for figuring out progress on its new goals, including improvements to safety and security, though the company is tracking and now publishing many metrics, like how many fake accounts it takes down daily. “This is going to be our first time figuring this out,” Schroepfer said about the change.

While members of the media were not allowed at Tuesday’s all-hands, Facebook also provided Fortune with the following comment about the change in bonus structure: “Over the past two years, we’ve fundamentally changed how we run Facebook. This particular change is designed to ensure that we are incentivizing people to keep making progress on the major social issues facing the internet and our company.”

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