Facebook bans political profile pictures on its internal social network

Facebook has reportedly banned its employees from using political images as their profile pictures on its internal social network.

The policy is one of several new rules Facebook instituted this week governing how staffers communicate on its Workplace platform amid concerns that discussions there were getting too political, according to reports.

Facebook workers will now be required to use a photo of themselves or their initials as their Workplace profile picture, CNBC reported Thursday. That reportedly means they can no longer display images to express support for political candidates or causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Staffers will still be able to modify their profile pictures with pre-approved frames, including a Black Lives Matter-themed one, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook will also require employees to moderate Workplace discussion groups dedicated to politics, social issues and other topics unrelated to their jobs, the paper reported. And the Silicon Valley giant has expanded its definition of harassment to ban “insensitive, degrading or derogatory” communications that could create a hostile work environment for protected groups, according to CNBC.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. But company spokesman Joe Osborne told outlets the changes are meant to “make sure our people have both voice, and choice.”

“We deeply value expression, open discussion, and a company culture built on respect and inclusivity,” Osborne told CNBC in a statement. “What we have heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed.”

Facebook’s move to control contentious discussions followed a series of leaks from within the social-media titan. Reports in BuzzFeed News and The Verge have detailed Facebook staffers’ criticisms of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s handling of President Trump’s inflammatory posts, among other issues.

Facebook is also under pressure to crack down on disinformation on its public platform ahead of the November presidential election. The company announced a slate of new initiatives earlier this month aimed at doing that, including a ban on new political ads in the week before Election Day.

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