Jun 20 2018

Risk and Response at Facebook

By Meta Careers
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Risk & Response is a fairly new part of our larger Operations team at Facebook. The team is made up of three organizations including: Escalations, Imminent Risk and Risk Assessment. These three organizations exist to respond to real-time crises, proactively identify and evaluate emerging risks, conduct post mortem investigations that provide critical insights to our internal cross functional stakeholders and deliver action oriented assessments that benefit our community. James M., Director of the Global Risk & Response team, shares insight into how the Risk & Response team is an integral part of Facebook’s integrity effort to keep our community safe.

Why did you join the Risk & Response team at Facebook?

I've been at Facebook for the past 12 years, and during that time I’ve had the opportunity to help define how Facebook keeps its community safe while fostering an environment that values the expression of its 2 billion global users.
A lot of my time has been spent helping to build our broader approach to company integrity efforts. From the policies that govern what is abusive, to how we’ve grown our operational teams, or even how we partner with product to enforce against these policies to protect our community.
The teams that make up Risk & Response are largely focused on identifying systemic gaps in the way we protect our community to ensure we help fix it. The sense of responsibility I, and my colleagues, feel toward Facebook getting these things right, is the main reason I am here, lead and have helped grow our Risk & Response organization.

How do you know you're making impact in your work?

The way people communicate and share on Facebook is a microcosm for what is happening in the broader world. This applies to both the joys and challenges that people experience in their personal life to geopolitical triumphs and threats. So much of our work is grounded in understanding how we handle these negative real world experiences that manifest on Facebook every day.
How do we understand when somebody is being harassed on our platform, prevent it, and provide the necessary help? How do we protect a human rights activist that might be subject to persecution? Asking these questions, probing how we actually perform, and ensuring we get better is at the core of what we do.
These issues and how they connect to people makes the impact of the team that much more rewarding. At a company level, solving these problems enables us to better build community and bring the world closer together.

You’re hiring. What type of people are you looking to join your team as it grows?

The nature of our work and the varied functions necessary to make our organization successful, requires a diverse set of backgrounds and skills. However, there are a higher set of values and approaches common to people that have been successful within my team. The most prominent of these values is a mission driven passion for improving the lives of people and communities. There are also a couple approaches that I've seen make for successful employees more generally at Facebook, not just Risk and Response team: the ability to take initiative and comfort with change.
The above are examples of more universal traits we look for, but there are also a broader set of skills and backgrounds some of which are more unique to specific roles on the team that we’ve found to be extraordinarily valuable. Structured thinking and a curious mindset are both really important for investigative work on our team. Program management and cross functional advocacy are vitally important traits in ensuring our cross functional partners are able to solve a lot of the problems that our team identifies. Curiosity in and awareness of global affairs makes for team members that are great at risk identification. People with a technical and data analytics skill set are instrumental in determining how we identify, measure, and make progress. As you can see there isn't one background that we're looking for or that will be successful on Risk and Response, but there are a multitude of backgrounds that are instrumental in giving our team the diversity of thought to make us successful for our community.

Tell us more about your career trajectory at Facebook. What keeps you here?

I started at Facebook 12 years ago after my college graduation working on what was called the Customer Support team. At that time there were about 100 people at the company and Facebook was limited to college and high school students. Obviously a lot has changed at Facebook through the years, though my presence at the company hasn't, and there are a number of reasons for that.
Opportunities are something that I've had an abundance of as Facebook has grown and is something that I've been grateful for. I had the opportunity to people manage at a young age and the joy I get from working with people on my teams is the most important part of my day. I had the opportunity to lead an overseas office in Hyderabad India which was both a great professional and life experience.
As Facebook grew I also worked for Instagram, managing their online operations team, and learned a tremendous amount from working in a smaller company culture again. The autonomy Facebook gives its employees is another defining attribute that has made working here such a tremendous experience. Something that has always impressed me is that you are treated as the expert in your respective area and given the ability to shape not just what you work on, but the definition of your role. I've managed people that have developed their own unique expertise led to the creation of entirely different teams and organizations over time.
The reality that things are constantly changing at work has challenged me, allowed me to learn more, and created an exciting fast paced culture that I've really appreciated. The world around us, through current events and cultural trends is always in flux, Facebook as a product is always evolving, and the intersection of these two tremendous sources of change is where our work generally lies.
Lastly, the level of impact we can have on both one person and millions in the same day, while humbling, is also tremendously rewarding.

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