“When I was considering joining Facebook, my mentor questioned whether it was the right decision. I told him it’s easy to point fingers at problems, but I want to be part of the solution. That’s the reason I joined. I want to help keep people safe and support people in building stronger connections,” says Steven G., an engineering director in London.
Now, Steven supports multiple teams within Facebook’s Community Integrity organization. These teams are addressing integrity issues across Facebook’s apps and helping provide a safe and inclusive environment for billions of people around the world.
“Integrity is a complex space, and there are a lot of passionate people working incredibly hard every day to keep our communities safe,” Steven says. “At Facebook, we focus a lot on getting the harmful content that violates our policies off the platform. As we’ve gotten better at this, we’re investing more in experiences as well. Giving people more control over what they see and experience is a big priority for us. As a result, our team is growing rapidly.”
Steven, engineering director
Read on to learn more about some of the Community Integrity tools, solutions and experiences teams are building in London.
Creating a strong foundation for integrity experiences
Vasanth R. is an engineering manager on the Foundation team, which ensures consistency, performance, and reliability of integrity experiences for people on Facebook. His team is building an internal platform that other teams use to build and ship integrity experiences across Facebook apps and services, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Oculus and Workplace.
Vasanth explains, “For the people who use our products, we’re solving the problem of fragmented, incomplete and inconsistent integrity experiences. We build tools on the same foundation, to ensure our products behave similarly, and the various features tie into a cohesive overall experience. For example, people will have a seamless experience doing everything from reporting something on the app, to getting notified on any decisions we make, to eventually appealing this decision all the way to the independent oversight board."
He adds, “With the world changing rapidly, it’s even more important that we build product experiences that are highly scalable and flexible to different integrity problems, countries, and emerging needs.”
Vasanth, engineering manager
Vasanth has been at Facebook for over seven years. He previously worked in Facebook’s Vancouver and Menlo Park offices before moving to London. Every day brings a new challenge. “Integrity is still a relatively new area, so there are a lot of hard problems to tackle. Solutions are not immediately apparent and we need to approach them creatively and with an open mind,” he explains.
Giving people a voice
Ryan B., a product manager, found a new sense of purpose when she came back from maternity leave and joined the Support team. “As a new parent, I felt an overwhelming urge to protect my child and future generations to come. Facebook has a huge role to play. But because each day new integrity issues arise, there isn’t a playbook. We’re addressing new issues as they come up and working closely with the Policy team, Community Operations and external stakeholders to prevent harm and bad experiences from happening to people online,” she says.
The Integrity Experiences Support team helps people on Facebook report negative experiences, from hate speech to harassment. “We play an important role in keeping people safe and helping their voices be heard,” Ryan says. If someone reports a negative experience to Facebook, the team uses a combination of technology and reviewers to evaluate their report and make a decision about how to proceed. “We strive to be transparent and provide context on why we made a decision the way we did,” she adds.
Ryan, product manager
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan found the Support team’s work taking on more urgency as Facebook usage skyrocketed. “We launched information screens across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram within days. These screens communicated that it might take longer to hear back about a support request.”
Ryan says the team also ensured that warning screens were supported and applied to content spreading misinformation about COVID-19. “These screens cover certain sensitive information with a warning so people can decide whether they want to see it.”
Developing trust through transparency
Boris M., a software engineer on the Community Integrity Team focusing on the Oversight Product, helps build tools for people to defend content that was taken down by Facebook. “Imagine you are an artist and a piece of your art gets taken down because it was perceived as offensive. We want to give people an opportunity to explain what their intention was for the content that got taken down,” Boris says.
Boris adds that building trust and solving complex problems are what he finds most rewarding about his work. “These are brand new problems that we’re facing—not just at Facebook but within the entire industry. We want to give people a voice and ensure that we’re being fair and transparent every step of the way.”
Boris, software engineer
Boris continues, “Empathy is vital, and diversity is critical too. Facebook is global and designed for people from all backgrounds. Having people on our team and the Oversight Board who are part of different cultures is hugely valuable when making decisions that impact their experiences on the platform.”
Leveraging data for accountability
Janani D., a data engineering manager, says that she always envisioned herself working at a company like Facebook. “When I learned there was a role in integrity, I knew it was something I had to do. Knowing that we’re building trust and going after people trying to abuse our platform is so rewarding. Being part of a strong data foundation that enables us to see our work make a positive impact makes me proud.”
Janani says though she had a lot of experience working with data, Facebook’s scale was a surprise. “Our work has instant, real world impact. Almost overnight, we can see the impact of what we worked on that day,” she says. “We don’t just build software; we have one of the most complex cross-functional groups. When I worked in financial services, I wore one hat at a time. Working in integrity, I have to wear so many different hats while staying focused on the big picture.”
Janani, data engineering manager
Janani also finds value in the diversity of the team in London. “We have a mix of people from so many different countries and backgrounds. Everyone has a different story to tell. I think that diversity is really important when working in integrity, because we represent everyone on our platform.”
A thriving and fast-growing team
When it comes to managing a fast-growing team working on complex issues, Steven says empowerment is key. “I’m committed to allyship and providing an inclusive experience for everyone. This is true beyond just my team—it’s something Facebook is committed to as a company. We focus a lot on training and what it means to include people or be an ally.”
When asked about the most rewarding opportunities for people joining the team, Steven points back to impact. “We can connect people and help them build stronger communities. These communities can drive change and greater good. There aren’t many companies that impact billions of people worldwide. The scale is a challenge, but also rewarding and humbling.”