Mar 18, 2020 - Technology

Facebook will indefinitely pay contractors it has sent home

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Facebook will pay its contract workers indefinitely, even if they aren't able to carry on their normal duties, as it directs most of its labor force to work from home to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

What they're saying: "I don't think we see an end to that," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters Wednesday on giving full pay to its contracted content moderators whose work can't be done remotely.

  • "Hopefully at some point, when the public health response is sufficient, people can resume working in the office," Zuckerberg added. "But we don't view this as a time-bounded thing."

Yes, but: Facebook relies heavily on contract workers for content moderation.

  • Some of the work that Facebook doesn't want contractors handling remotely, particularly in sensitive areas like suicidal ideations and child exploitation, will be shifted to full-time employees, Zuckerberg said.
  • The company will also rely more heavily on artificial intelligence to detect problematic content.
  • Still, he acknowledged that Facebook expects productivity to take a hit while its offices are largely empty. He noted Facebook workers are not only telecommuting, but also may be dealing with kids at home because of school closures.

Separately, Zuckerberg said Facebook is working on a new coronavirus information center that will push reliable information to the top of users' Facebook feeds.

  • The feature will launch in the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the U.K. as soon as tomorrow, with the aim of eventually making it global.
  • The company is also making its Facebook-for-work tools, such as Workplace, free to governments and emergency services for the next 12 months.

Go deeper

Facebook gears up for long-term remote work

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg told reporters on Wednesday that Facebook plans to pay its contract workers indefinitely, even if they aren't able to carry on their normal duties. That comes as Facebook has directed most of its full-time and contract labor force to work from home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

What they're saying: "I don't think we see an end to that," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters Wednesday on giving full pay to its contracted content moderators whose work can't be done remotely.

Zuckerberg: "Local journalism is incredibly important" to fighting coronavirus

Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, signaling his personal involvement in a new Facebook commitment of $100 million to bolstering local journalism, told me that "very local work" is vital to his big mission of bringing the world closer together.

What he's saying: "Everyone believes that local journalism is incredibly important," Zuckerberg told Axios in a phone interview. "But everyone is connected to their local [outlets]. Figuring out how to make an impact, and support local journalism broadly and at scale, has been a challenge."

Ken Chenault to depart Facebook board of directors

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault will not run for re-election on Facebook's board of directors following disagreements with CEO Mark Zuckerberg over governance and political policies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Facebook's board of directors has seen significantly changes in a short period of time, with some departing who are not fully in agreement with Zuckerberg. Last month the board added Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, and a friend of Zuckerberg's.