For those who work or plan to work as analysts or engineers at institutions of one sort or another, the case of Facebook engineer Ashok Chandwaney presents an interesting example of how norms of decency, personal responsibility, and job obligations must be negotiated. As recently report, Chandwaney resigned from his position at Facebook. In his resignation letter, which was made public, he cited the company’s failure to address hate on the platform, and he provided a good deal of evidence to justify his claim.
The question for those considering roles as engineers and analysts in corporate, governmental or other organizations is what to do when institutions act, or fail to act, in ways that violate personal and social norms of decency and responsibility. Do you remain on the job and hope that your work will not contribute to the unacceptable corporate behavior? Do you try to change the institution from within? Or, like Chandwaney and a number of others at Facebook, do you leave and make your reasons known? And, of course, a prior question is how do you make yourself sensitive to the activities and impact of the larger organization while spending your days in heads-down technical work?