5:47pm PT by Andy Lewis
Facebook Tell All: Policing Female Employees' Clothes, Spying on News Feeds and More Suprising Revelations
A new tell-all book about Facebook reveals some wild goings on at the company. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley (HarperCollins, June 28) by Antonia Garcia Martinez, a former advertising manager who worked at the social network company from 2011 to 2013, details the everything from the frat boy behavior of many employees to the company’s secret rituals (Faceversary Day) to what top leaders such as founder Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg are really like.
Here are six surprising revelations in the book:
1. Zuckerberg liked to quote Roman classics to fire up the troops.
When Google plus was announced as a challenge to Facebook, Zuckerberg declared total war in a speech to company employees declaring “lockdown” a 24-7-365 commitment to beating its rival. He ended his speech by saying, “One of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with Carthago delenda est —‘Carthage must be destroyed.'" As Martinez recounts, “Zuckerberg’s tone went from paternal lecture to martial exhortation” and “everyone walked out of there ready to invade Poland.”
2. Facebook has a "Ministry of Propaganda."
After the speech the Analog Research Laboratory, which Martinez says functioned like an internal propaganda operation, printed up posters that with Carthago delenda est over a Roman centurion’s helmet (people stole those quickly). Martinez says the Analog Lab, founded with “no official permission or budget,” did stuff like this regularly, distributing inspirational posters “semi furtively at nights and on weekends.”
3. It also has its own security force to spy on workers.
"The Sec" was the nickname for the company’s internal security force. At orientation, Martinez and the other new workers were warned that if they were caught looking at people’s profiles without an official reason they’ll be fired “so fast we’ll need a cleanup crew to remove the still warm coffee from your desk.” (This is actually a good thing). When Zuckerberg told the company in 2012 it was officially going public, his email opened by warning not to tell anyone or the “the Sec” will get you. “As with the Stasi in East Germany,” Martinez writes, “all who lived under its jurisdiction knew they were being watched.”
4. Female employees were warned not to wear provocative clothing.
At his new employee orientation, Martinez recalls that a male human resources employee (“with occasional backup from his female counterpart”) lectured female employees about wearing clothing that “distracted” male co-workers. He also writes that he learned of managers who pulled aside female employees to lecture them on their clothes.
5. Faceversary celebrated joining the company, but leaving was like dying.
Martinez says the day people started at the company was celebrated with the same fervor “evangelicals celebrate the day they … found Jesus” and was called your Faceversary, complete with balloons or flowers to celebrate it. On the other hand, leaving was like dying, memorialized by posting your company id on your Facebook feed. Leaving meant you were kicked off the company’s private internal groups “and your Facebook feed, which had become your only social view on the world, suddenly slowed to a near-empty crawl.” (But after leaving invitations to join “ex-Facebook secret groups, which served as a post employment purgatory,” often came in).
6. The company’s techie bosses needed their PowerPoint presentations printed out and were impatient at meetings.
Both Sandberg and Zuckerberg so hated watching PowerPoint presentations the staffers would have to print out and staple together the slides so the two them could physically look at them. Martinez makes readers a fly on the wall at a meeting where he pitched Zuckerberg and Sandberg on a new ad experience. Readers learn that Sandberg “exiled in the role of gatekeeper and shepherd to difficult and powerful men” and “ads were not something [Zuckerberg] cared about.” In his first year at the company, he only saw Zuckerberg come over to the ad section once. Zuckerberg was also noticeably impatient at meetings and employees would have to meet with Sandberg in advance to “pre-chew” the pitch before presenting it to Zuckerberg.