Senior Facebook executives on Tuesday sought to rally employees behind business priorities such as commerce and virtual reality, in a year-end meeting in which criticism of the company for tolerating false and violent posts was downplayed.
“The way out is forward. I think the only way forward is to keep working,” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees, according to audio of a speech heard by Reuters.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that criticism of Facebook had hurt staff morale , and said the territory gained draws public scrutiny. Additionally, using a defiant tone, he argued that at least part of the pushback came from rivals or those with an interest in tarnishing Facebook’s reputation.
“We must also recognize that we have many competitors and there are people who believe that their success depends on our failure. Therefore, it is important that we do not accept all criticism reflexively,” he said.
Critics have attacked Facebook this year for its hands-off approach to its services , including a rare staff strike that accused Zuckerberg of failing to adequately monitor posts by US President Donald Trump.
The world’s largest social network also faced an advertiser boycott in the summer for its handling of hate speech and the spread of violent rhetoric surrounding the US presidential election, in addition to the growing conflict it has. with regulators for alleged anti-competitive behavior.
Despite the difficulties, Zuckerberg and other executives who spoke at Tuesday’s sessions, including Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, tried to stay focused on business priorities .
Zuckerberg said he would be “particularly focused” on technologies that deliver “a deeper sense of presence,” such as augmented and virtual reality. He added that the company had a “unique opportunity in commerce and payments”, as well as in creating tools that allow the collaboration of people who work remotely.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has played a less prominent public role on Facebook than in previous years, closed the session by thanking employees for adjusting to telecommuting caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that around 20,000 new employees joined the company this year , including 17,000 hired after the start of the pandemic who had never set foot in a Facebook office.