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I don't disagree with these sentiments, but the hope that engineers/IT staff will leave is wishful thinking. I speak from my own experience which my differ from others in other industries/regions/countries but, I find people who work in tech to be generally dispassionate with regards to the downstream effects of their contributions. I think that's because:

a) We're often small cogs ...

b) ... working on often interesting technical problems that require much detail ("think down here" I was once told by a manager, who put his hand to the ground, "not up here" he said putting his hand up and waving it[1]) ...

c) ... and we don't always get to choose. Not everyone is a superstar who can leisurely choose which exciting opportunity to pick and choose. And yes, most of us have rent/mortgages/children/ other obligations to concern ourselves with.

...even if we aren't necessarily all amoral.

1 Luckily I outlasted him in that company. :-)




Thanks for sharing! I empathize with a lot of what you said. I wrote about my own challenges with ethics in software (and added your comment as a citation): https://www.nemil.com/musings/software-engineers-and-ethics....

While it may not affect current employees, I do think vivid stories like this make the allure of joining Facebook less compelling for the next generation of programmers. It also may influence just a few people in hot fields who have many opportunities to choose from (such as the top researchers in AI).


This is, sadly, 100% true. I know because I've been there. I've been that engineer who was so interested in the technical problems of what he was doing that he didn't think about what it was being used for, which I think is the gist of (B) at the least. The banality of evil is very much real.


I think the reason is (d), that most employees believe in the company's mission and do not think they are working for an unethical company, but instead that the company is being unfairly portrayed.


Most in Facebook or most in general in tech companies? If the latter, I'd bet my life that most people couldn't care less about visions or missions, which is more the realm of Founders, very young employees and marketing materials. I'm sorry to state it that harshly...




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