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Meta bans employees from talking about abortion

The social media company said it could create a ‘hostile work environment’

Meta has reportedly told employees that they cannot talk about abortion on Workplace, its internal version of Facebook, because it could create a “hostile work environment”.

The policy, which was allegedly put in place in 2019 but has only now come to light, stops employees from “opinions or debates about abortion being right or wrong, availability or rights of abortion, and political, religious, and humanitarian views on the topic,” according to a section of the company’s internal “Respectful Communication Policy” first reported on by The Verge.

A recording of an all-hands meeting with Meta employees – who are known as ‘Metamates’ – obtained by The Verge reportedly had Meta’s vice president of HR, Janelle Gale, say that abortion was “the most divisive and reported topic” by employees on Workplace and that “even if people are respectful, and they’re attempting to be respectful about their view on abortion, it can still leave people feeling like they’re being targeted based on their gender or religion”.

She reportedly added: “It’s the one unique topic that kind of trips that line on a protected class pretty much in every instance.”

Recently, news broke that the US Supreme Court is preparing to issue a ruling that could end decades of constitutional protections for abortion care and trigger a wave of laws making abortion illegal in roughly half the US.

Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg has called abortion “one of our most fundamental rights” on her public Facebook page.

“Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother,” she wrote. “Few things are more important to women’s health and equality.”

Internally, however, Meta was taking a different approach. “At work, there are many sensitivities around this topic, which makes it difficult to discuss on Workplace,” Meta’s head of product Naomi Gleit reportedly wrote on Workplace.

Ms Gleit also reportedly said employees could only discuss abortion at work “with a trusted colleague in a private setting (e.g. live, chat, etc.)” and in a “listening session with a small group of up to 5 like-minded people to show solidarity.”

However, she said that employees could use Meta’s social apps – such as Instagram and Facebook - to share their personal opinions, and that Meta “will continue to offer our employees access to reproductive healthcare in the US regardless of where they live.”

Meta did not provide a comment to The Independent’s before time of publication.

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