Sunday, October 24, 2021

Facebook executive apologizes for anti-Muslim post

A Facebook executive who shared an anti-Muslim anti-Islam narrative in her private account has offered an apology to company workers, where the post had not yet gone public.

The account, Facebook Senior Manager of Global Policy Management Karan Sarwate, was set to private on Friday, after a reporter notified the company of the content. Facebook later issued a statement confirming the content and that Sarwate had been suspended from her position.

“I am writing to apologize for my post,” Sarwate wrote to employees in a company-wide email obtained by The Washington Post. “It was wrong and an outrage to say the least.”

Sarwate added that she did not intend to offend others by posting and knew that her Facebook account would provide opportunities for online banter and creativity. But she also apologized to those who had been offended by her post, which suggested that the violent attacks in the United Kingdom during the recent London Bridge incident were linked to British Muslims, a frequent target of anti-Muslim attacks.

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman said that Sarwate had been put on leave and was available to return to work during the company’s summer break. Sarwate is not considered in danger.

Sarwate added that she had been “put on leave of absence” during the summer break. “I apologize to anyone who my post has upset or alienated,” she wrote.

A Facebook statement said: “Our reputation as a place to work has a significant impact on how we are viewed around the world. While we are committed to fostering a positive workplace environment, we are also committed to ensuring that people abide by our community standards. We do not support hate speech or hateful imagery, and we take action when we see it.”

Sarwate’s post was shared with an audience of more than 600,000, with Facebook confirming that it had not been made public before. The message, posted from her Facebook account on Thursday night, read:

“The London Bridge attack was caused by three white men yelling ‘Britain first’, ‘This is for Europe’ and ‘Britain is for Brits’. This is how they carried out their act of terror – using British identity to justify their horrific actions and anti-British statements. This is the type of radicalization that our Government and others are struggling to address – but it is not OK.

“Do not think for a second that Britain first is an English nationalist, or a Nazi movement. There are other groups and movements that use the same grievance and scapegoating to justify extreme actions. Today is what happens when those groups take power. Today is what happens when the press speaks freely to attack a politician for those views and the laws they represent.

“This is the message of London Bridge. This is what they will do again and again. They will not stop until they pass legislation banning the burqa or Sharia Law or Muslim immigration. Until then, stop this hate. Stop this scapegoating. People will kill in the name of Britain if you don’t stop them first.”

Sarwate worked at the digital platform for more than 10 years, most recently as director of global policy and international advocacy, and has more than two decades of experience in advocacy.

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