worked as a data scientist at
and her primary task was to find out
that could impact
all over the world. However, she was fired last year for poor performance and Facebook offered a severance package of $64,000 (about Rs 45 lakh). While offering the severance package, Facebook reportedly wanted her to sign a non-disparagement agreement. In other words, if she took the money then she couldn’t criticise Facebook or its employees publicly.
According to a detailed interview of Zhang in the
MIT Technology Review
, she wrote a memo detailing how she identified several countries, including India, Afghanistan, Mexico among others, where through fake accounts politicians were able to mislead people and gain power. She said that Facebook did little to solve the problem despite her efforts to bring it up to the company’s leadership.
After she was fired, she was debating whether to write the memo or not. “It was perhaps her last chance to create enough internal pressure on leadership to start taking the problems seriously,” states the report. It was then she turned out the chance of $64,000 as severance package because she did write the memo which had scathing and relevant criticism of Facebook.
In further interviews, she once again reiterated claims that Facebook wasn’t doing enough about the problem. And that it was making interfering in elections easier.
In a statement, Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, vehemently denied these claims. “For the countless press interviews she’s done since leaving Facebook, we have fundamentally disagreed with Ms. Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform,” he said.