Facebook told its employees to preserve all internal messages and documents since 2016 as it faces public backlash and government investigations
- The firm didn't specify why, but it comes after the FTC reportedly launched a probe into Facebook.
Facebook has told employees to save all of their internal messages and documents since 2016, The New York Times first reported on Wednesday.
In an email viewed by the paper on Tuesday, the company instructed workers to preserve internal communication that includes chatter around its businesses.
"As you are probably aware, we're currently the focus of extensive media coverage based on a swath of internal documents," Facebook said in the email, per The Times. "As is often the case following this kind of reporting, a number of inquiries from governments and legislative bodies have been launched into the company's operations."
A Facebook representative confirmed the move, called a "legal hold," to Insider but didn't specify exactly why it was rolled out.
"Document preservation requests are part of the process of responding to legal inquiries," the representative said.
The ask comes after former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower France Haugen filed thousands of internal company documents - known as the "Facebook Papers" - to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which were then shared with the press.
The materials show many employees were aware of the harm that Facebook's products posed, such as misinformation-spreading algorithms. Company representatives have pushed back on the reporting and have said it the documents paint a false picture of Facebook and its actions.
In a regulatory filing Tuesday, Facebook revealed that beginning in September, it "became subject to government investigations and requests relating to a former employee's allegations and release of internal company documents concerning, among other things, our algorithms, advertising and user metrics, and content enforcement practices, as well as misinformation and other undesirable activity on our platform, and user well-being."
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Federal Trade Commission had launched a probe into Facebook over whether the company violated a $5 billion settlement agreement with the agency.
Facebook also told employees not to talk about the legal hold on its internal messaging system, Workplace, and to avoid using temporary messaging for work. The hold doesn't apply to documents pertaining to certain projects, like WhatsApp, Spark AR, and an internal incubator, according to the report.
As the outlet noted, Facebook has directed similar instructions to employees before, like when the FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company last year. Facebook told its workforce not to talk about the suit at the time.
This also isn't the first internal communication directive Facebook has issued in response to the leaked documents. The company said earlier this month that it would be taking certain company groups private.
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