An ex-Facebook employee said the company demanded she remove a critical memo of it from her personal website. When she declined, her entire site was suddenly shut down.

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An ex-Facebook employee said the company demanded she remove a critical memo of it from her personal website. When she declined, her entire site was suddenly shut down.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images
  • A fired Facebook employee said her website was taken down after she posted a memo critical of the firm.
  • Sophie Zhang told Technology Review that Facebook asked her to remove the memo beforehand.
  • The memo detailed how Facebook allowed fake accounts to manipulate political outcomes.

A fired Facebook employee said the company asked her to remove a memo that criticized Facebook that she had posted on her personal website.

When she refused and tried to reason with the company, her entire website was suddenly shut down.

In a sweeping interview with MIT's Technology Review, Sophie Zhang shed more light on her time as a data scientist at Facebook and how she said the company could have done more to stop political interference around the globe.

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Her memo initially went public in a Buzzfeed story in September 2020, a month after Zhang said Facebook told her she was being fired. She posted a scathing 6,600-word internal memo laying out the various ways in which Facebook routinely ignored or deprioritized fake accounts' efforts to manipulate elections and political climates worldwide. Facebook deleted the memo before re-uploading an edited version.

And according to the report published Thursday, Zhang also posted the memo on her personal website. But a Facebook HR representative called her, she said, asking her to take down the memo, which was protected by a password.

Zhang said she would if Facebook replaced its edited version of her memo with her original one on the internal forum.

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But, according to Zhang, Facebook issued a complaint with her hosting server, which then took down her entire website. It later took down her internet domain also.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Zhang's job while at the company was to identify fake social accounts that were trying to manipulate political outcomes in places like Bolivia and India, a workload that she described as monumental. According to her, Facebook was slow to act, subsequently allowing the bots to successfully influence elections. However, she said Facebook prioritized its public image when choosing which false accounts to probe.

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She said she has "blood on my hands now" and blames herself in part for the political strife that has sprung up in countries around the world.

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