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Facebook employees are losing faith in Mark Zuckerberg

June 17, 2021, 2:00 PM UTC

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long faced scrutiny from the public, as his company has been blamed for massive privacy blunders, the dissemination of misinformation, and the spread of hate speech. But more and more, he’s also falling out of favor with his own workforce. 

Glassdoor, the online service that connects people to jobs and company reviews, recently revealed its annual list of top CEOs based on input from their respective employees, and for the first time since 2013, Zuckerberg was missing. Employees rated factors including sentiment on their CEO’s job performance as well as the pros and cons for working for their employer. They’re also encouraged to offer advice to their company’s management. 

Glassdoor then ranks the CEOs using an algorithm that takes into account the quantity, quality, and consistency of the employee reviews. 

Zuckerberg received an 88% approval rating for the 2021 survey—a downgrade from previous years when he scored above 93%. He even topped the list in 2013 with a 99% approval rating. In comparison, this year Zuckerberg’s Big Tech counterparts Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ranked at No. 6 with a 97% approval and Apple’s Tim Cook came in at No. 32 with a 95% approval.

Employee favor for Zuckerberg dropped by nearly 10% between Oct. 31 and Jan. 29, the survey shows. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the change coincides with the height of tensions surrounding the 2021 U.S. Presidential Election and the riot at the U.S. Capitol that followed.

For context, at the time Facebook was under fire for allowing President Donald Trump to post inflammatory comments and misinformation on its service with little consequence. The issue was so controversial that in June of 2020, Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over the matter.

At the time, Trump had made comments like “when the looting starts the shooting starts,” referring to the protests over the murder of George Floyd. To the disappointment of his employees, Zuckerberg decided against removing Trump’s posts, saying the service ultimately errs on the side of free expression. 

Then in January, extremists reportedly used Facebook groups to help plan their attack at the U.S. Capitol. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg downplayed the company’s role in the planning of the riot, claiming that the organization mostly occurred on other social media services.

Given its rocky history, Facebook has been strategizing on ways to repair its damaged image. Part of that strategy is reportedly to increase Zuckerberg’s public appearances, as a way to market the companies’ new products and efforts. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has noticeably changed his tone from strictly business to a more personal approach—sharing photos and stories of his daughters, life at home with his philanthropist wife Priscilla Chan, and even a video of himself surfing on a hydrofoil board.

That may or may not soften the views of the general public, but it’s likely going to take more than a few bad jokes, a handful of family pictures, and some videos of random skillsets like spear throwing to regain the favor his employees.

Danielle Abril
@DanielleDigest
danielle.abril@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Nadella’s growing power. Microsoft’s head honcho Satya Nadella can add a new title alongside chief executive officer. On Wednesday, he was announced as the company’s board chairman, as well. Nadella will replace independent board director John Thompson, as the CEO continues to boost the tech company’s profile. Under Nadella, the company has recovered from previous failures like the Windows Phone by focusing on cloud computing services. The news comes a year after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates left the board amid an investigation into allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a female employee.

Defending the ability to choose. Democratic Rep. David Cicilline has revealed a new proposal that would have a major impact on Apple if it’s signed into law. The proposal, part of a package of bipartisan antitrust bills aimed at Big Tech, would prohibit tech services from favoring their own products over those of their competitors. That means Apple would no longer be allowed to preload your phone with its apps without giving you the option to delete them. Additionally, the proposal would bar companies from changing users’ default settings to direct people to their own products. 

The blame game. Amazon says the growing number of fake reviews on its service is being fueled by one cause: social media. The company says that some people are using social media to buy and sell reviews on Amazon, which may wind up earning a product an “Amazon’s Choice” badge, according to The Guardian. Amazon has reportedly removed more than 200 million reviews suspected to be fake, but it ultimately says social media services are to blame for allowing the fake review sellers to promote their scammy businesses.

Insight to the Oversight. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of Facebook’s Oversight Board, the entity Facebook created to rule on tough content decisions independently of the company. Just a reminder, the board is financed by Facebook but stacked with academics and experts from around the world. Experts interviewed by the Wall Street Journal said the board’s success will ultimately be dependent on how Facebook follows up on the board’s optional guidance that come as part of the larger “binding” decision. The board entered new territory earlier this week when it accepted its first request from Facebook to provide guidance on a policy: the sharing of private residential information.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google have billions of users across the world, mostly because they provide services without charging any money for them. But critics are quick to point out none of these services for free. The price of these services is personal data.

More recently companies have moved away from burying their data collection practices in thick terms of service to giving users the option to opt out of having some of their data collected. But when too many customers actually choose that option, they always seem to find ways to track them anyway, Greg Bensinger wrote in the New York Times. Bensinger pointed out why it’s so hard for companies to stick to ideals like “don’t be evil,” Google’s old motto.  

“The idealism of Silicon Valley requires believing that technology companies can best solve the world’s problems, one line of code at a time. That line of thinking also glosses over an uncomfortable truth: To achieve cheap or even free services requires justifying a range of behavior that often isn’t in the best interests of consumers.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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BEFORE YOU GO

Have you ever opted into a free trial for a service only to forget the cut-off cancellation date and get charged for a full month, maybe even a year’s subscription? (Now might be a good time to check your credit card statements and make sure you haven’t been unknowingly paying for a service for which you missed the deadline.) Well, a group of lawmakers are hoping to end this practice with a new bill.

The Unsubscribe Act, if passed, would require that sellers notify people when their free trial or promotional price is about to end and prohibit sellers from automatically charging customers more than a month’s fee if they missed the cut off. Lawmakers, if you can hear me, more of this, please!

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