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Meta bans staff from discussing ‘very disruptive’ topics including abortion, gun rights, and vaccines in new ‘community engagement expectations’

December 6, 2022, 8:20 PM UTC
Mark Zuckerberg
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced new “community engagement expectations” on Tuesday, according to screenshots viewed by Fortune.

Lori Goler, the head of people at Meta, wrote in an internal forum to all employees that the company is enacting new rules that dictate what is considered appropriate discussion at work. The post also includes chief information security officer Guy Rosen and head of product Naomi Gleit.

“As Mark mentioned recently, we need to make a number of cultural shifts to help us deliver against our priorities,” Goler wrote. “We’re doing this to ensure that internal discussions remain respectful, productive, and allow us to focus. This comes with the trade-off that we’ll no longer allow for every type of expression at work, but we think this is the right thing to do for the long-term health of our internal community.”

The internal post indicates that this new set of rules is effective today and “applies to everyone at Meta.” Goler lists three “core principles” of the new engagement rules: focus on the mission, work with respect, and protect company information.

Goler expands on the “minimizing disruption” aspect by specifically barring certain topics at Meta.

The memo also clarified that this is an expansion of previous bans on discussions of sensitive topics. The New York Times reported in late June that following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the company told workers not to openly discuss the matter, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

“We’re increasing the number of topics that can no longer be discussed at work based on what we’ve seen to be very disruptive in the past,” Goler wrote. The issues that can no longer be discussed include health matters such as vaccine efficacy and abortion, legal matters such as pending legislation, political matters such as elections or political movements, and weapon ownership and rights.

“We deeply value expression, open discussion, and a company culture built on respect and inclusivity,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement provided to Fortune. “We’ve updated our employee expectations to provide direction around what is appropriate for our people in the workplace, so that we can reduce distractions while maintaining an environment that is respectful and inclusive and where people can do their best work.”

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase enacted a similar ban on political topics in 2020, prompting a flood of both external and internal backlash.

The only exception to Meta’s new internal rules are those who must discuss these topics as required by their job, or if the company needs to post about disruptive topics as those relate to Meta. These new rules do not apply to employees discussing these matters on external social media accounts.

Meta is also making a change to how it takes public positions on important public policy issues, the post reads.

“We are often asked to sign on to advocacy letters on topics that are important, but not directly connected to our work. This can distract us from focusing on issues that are not central to our mission,” Goler wrote. “So going forward, as a company we will only make public statements on issues that are core to our business, meaning they are required in order to provide our service.”

This report has been updated to include a statement from a Meta spokesperson provided to Fortune.

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