Facebook Employees Freaking Out About One Exec’s Kavanaugh Support

Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

Facebook employees are furious about Joel Kaplan, a high-level exec at the company who attended the Kavanaugh hearing as a strong show of support for the Supreme Court Nominee, CNBC reports.

Kaplan serves as the VP of global policy at Facebook, which is a pretty big job. He’s also a long-time friend of Kavanaugh’s, and sat just two rows behind him at last week’s hearing. Kavanaugh was questioned at the hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the sexual assault allegations made against him by Christine Blasey Ford.

Hundreds of employees at Facebook are angry and have expressed outrage against Kaplan. His presence at the Kavanaugh hearing can be construed, they say, as an endorsement for the Supreme Court nominee from Facebook. Many have expressed their feelings on Facebook internal message boards, and some have taken their complaints straight to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

At a recent staff meeting, Zuckerberg said that Kaplan did not violate any company rules by virtue of his presence at the hearing. However, Zuckerberg may be out on a limb alone.

In an internal message to Facebook employees, COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote that “it was a mistake for [Kaplan] to attend given his role in the company.”

Kaplan himself responded to the criticism, saying, “I believe in standing by your friends, especially when times are tough for them.” He also apologized to the Facebook staffers, saying, “I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one.”

It has not quelled concerns and comments from the employees, who continue to flood internal message boards expressing their dismay.

Many Facebook employees have used the internal message boards to share their #MeToo stories, so the issue is a particularly sensitive one, the New York Times reports.

There isn’t much question about where Kaplan is aligned politically. He previously served as a senior adviser to George W. Bush. He has also been friends with Kavanaugh for many years, and was in Kavanaugh’s wedding.

“His seat choice was intentional, knowing full well that journalists would identify every public figure appearing behind Kavanaugh. He knew that this would cause outrage internally, but he knew that he couldn’t get fired for it. This was a protest against our culture, and a slap in the face to his fellow employees,” one program manager wrote.

There is a company meeting scheduled on Friday to allow employees to express more of their concerns. Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and Kaplan will all be present to hear comments and answer questions.