Thursday January 17, 2019
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Facebook Should Do Better For New Mothers: Ex-Data Scientist

Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees

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Facebook, video chat
LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

Facebook should do better for families — especially for new mothers — by allowing them flexible work hours so that they are not forced to leave their jobs, a former employee has stressed.

Writing in The Wired on Sunday, Eliza Khuner, a data scientist who worked at Facebook from November 2017 to July 2018, said she had to leave her job at Facebook as the company has no policy for those who have to balance motherhood with their jobs.

“I love my job, but I love my baby even more. When I told Facebook I wanted to work from home part-time, HR was firm: You can’t work from home, you can’t work part-time and you can’t take extra unpaid leave,” Khuner wrote.

“In mid-July, with the heartache of a break-up, I sent my resignation letter. I also wrote another note describing my agonising choice, saying that Facebook could and should do better for families. I posted it internally, in a group for Facebook employees worldwide,” she added.

To her surprise, over 5,500 Facebook employees reacted in support.

“Hundreds commented, telling me I wasn’t alone. Mothers shared how they struggled to perform at work and be there for their kids, and how sad they were to miss the special moments.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

“Fathers said they felt the strain of not being with their children. People with no kids chimed in with their support,” Khuner said.

Facebook implemented four months’ paid maternity leave for all employees after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg availed two months of paternity leave in 2015 for her daughter’s birth.

The policy that began from January 1, 2016, for all new parents regardless of gender or location, allows employees to take leave at any point up to a year after the birth of their child.

Khuner said that during her four months’ maternity leave, she envisioned caring for a baby alongside a full-time job but couldn’t.

In one of the replies to her, a woman wrote: “I’m getting my eggs frozen, for the sole reason to delay children, because I fear having to make this decision”.

According to COO Sheryl Sandberg, while management wanted to move in that direction at some point in the future, they couldn’t right now.

“Allowing part-time options to all parents would strain the rest of the team, she said,” wrote Khuner.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees.

Many high-tech workers, however, do not take advantage of such benefits for fear of falling behind at work or missing out on promotions.

Accorsing to Khuner, Facebook has solved harder problems than this.

Also Read- UAE University Breaks A Guinness World Record

“That Friday at the weekly Q&A for Facebook staff, I stood before Mark Zuckerberg, my baby sleeping on my chest, and challenged him to do better.

“Zuckerberg said he was sorry I was leaving, but echoed Sheryl,” she added.

According to her, companies like Facebook have the imagination and the resources to implement better leave and flexibility in working hours so parents don’t have to choose between their children and careers. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook To Invest $300Mn In Local News Partnerships, Programs

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model."

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Facebook, dating
Facebook owned photo-messaging app Instagram already supports the "Unsend" capability VOA

Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in local news programs, partnerships and other initiatives.

The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news.

The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online.

Facebook, Fake News
A user gets ready to launch Facebook on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. Facebook has made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others are less likely to see them. VOA

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network.

“The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.”

Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends.

At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia.

Facebook, social media
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this illustration. VOA

The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm.

The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years.

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.”

Also Read: Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help.

“I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. (VOA)