Facebook always seemed to be one of the world’s coolest workplaces. But it has fallen victim to the critical view of one of its former employees, who has openly shared his experiences in an autobiographical book.
Antonio Garcia Martinez, who was fired by Facebook in 2013, reveals a lot in his manuscript — Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley — which was released on June 28. Published by Harper Collins, the 528 page book covers his journey and experiences at Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech giants. Most of the second half of the volume talks about his experience at Facebook, where he butchers various practices and cultural aspects of the tech brand.
Martinez, who was a founder-turned-employee of Facebook and also Twitter advisor, reveals through his writings that Facebook has a strict policing sort of culture when it comes to how women dress up. He also discloses the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is a tough boss. The work showcases a misogynistic image of Facebook, where women workers are subjected to scrutiny and restrictions imposed on their clothing. Apparently women personnel are not allowed to wear short dresses that may ‘distract’ other workers in the office.
An excerpt from the book reads, “Our male HR authority, with occasional backup from his female counterpart, launched into a speech about avoiding clothing that ‘distracted’ co-workers. I’d later learn that managers did, in fact, occasionally pull aside female employees and read them the riot act. One such example happened in Ads, with an intern who looked about 16 coming in regularly in booty shorts. It was almost laughably inappropriate, but such was our disinhibited age”.
Apparently, there are some strange dating rules as well, that restrict co-workers from asking out and strangely enough, if someone does break this rule, the HR managers give a warning only to the women, irrespective of who approached who.
Through his book, he also exposes how Zuckerberg dictates an authoritative culture. Martinez compares Facebook to North Korea with CEO Mark Zuckerberg being its ruler. The book mentions an internal police force called 'The Sec', responsible for keeping an eye on every Facebook employee. In addition, Martinez accuses Zuckerberg of sending terribly worded e-mails. In his book, he writes, “Like Jesus speaking to his apostles, Facebook often imparted nuggets of its culture in the form of parables. The parable here concerned a misguided Facebook employee who leaked news of a soon-to-be-launched product to the tech press. Zuck reacted via a to-all e-mail with the subject ‘Please resign’, an alarming presence in anybody’s inbox”.
Martinez shares how Zuckerberg expressed his disagreement and anger on the creative expression of employees on the message wall of the office. Citing a particular case, he says – “That weekend Zuck sent another to-all e-mail (or maybe it was posted in the general Facebook internal group to which everyone belonged), the gist being: I trusted you to create art, and what you f*****s did was vandalise the place.”
Martinez divulges that someone who quits Facebook is treated as one leaving something so critical that they would not find ever again. “When someone left Facebook (usually around when the balloons said four or five), everyone would treat it as a death, as if you were leaving the current plane of existence and going to another one (though it wasn’t assumed this next plane would be better than the current one)”, he said in his book. Such hints coming from an organisation on someone’s exit, are sure to generate criticism and disappointment.
This is not the first time Facebook has been accused of being unfair or biased, as its diversity ratios have also been questioned in the past. However, this time someone has made public seemingly true inside stories, through a widely available publication. Now, although Facebook hasn’t been reached for its comments on the allegations, the book has surely put the spotlight on it, for all the wrong reasons!