"This isn't about appearance, or politics. It's about security, and protecting our assets."
— Maud Peeman

In December 2019, Wired magazine reported on a leaked internal memo sent to senior managers in the Security and Human Intelligence Taskforce Group of Facebook (for clarification, this department tackles issues of internal security within the company). The memo read:

To all [SHI] Taskforce managers:
We have been experiencing issues with employees of the department traveling with company-issued laptops. Apparently over-zealous staff of the Transportation Security Administration have been selecting travelers with certain stickers affixed for special attention.

This has resulted in unnecessary delays for many of our staff during the boarding procedure, causing some key employees to miss flights. In turn this has meant missed meetings and on occasion, the confiscation of secure company assets during the DHS investigations.

It appears that certain stickers, notably those associated with activist or political organizations, attract especial attention from security staff at airports. Staff have been detained, searched and questioned, and their laptops are often then removed by DHS for forensic examination.

Stickers in question include those connected with online activism (EFF, TOR being notable), as well as religious affiliation, most frequently Islamic. Extreme political views ("QAnon" and the like) and on occasion, feminist and gender-sexualty [sic] LGBTQ+ stickers have attracted attention.

We are concerned over the possible disclosure of Facebook internal security measures and The Company has decided to take additional steps to protect our procedures and systems.

It has therefore been decided that any laptop device issued by The Company for business use in the future must not bear any stickers; any employee applying such stickers will be subject to disciplinary action and possible referral to the Humane [sic] Resources Department. This will have the effect of drawing less attention during airport secuirty [sic] scans and therefore protecting our crucial assets.

This takes effect immediately.

Selena Kofama
President of Personnel Administration

The leak came about after Kareen Van Feem (one of the Taskforce junior managers) was written up for continuing to display a National LGBTQ Task Force sticker on their company-issued equipment. After asking their manager to forward the memo, and pointing out that the policy related only to new laptops, they were disciplined for insubordination and threatened with termination, at which point they released the email to Wired.

In a published interview, Kareen related tales of bullying, harassment and an unhealthy culture of intolerance within the department. "It was run like the KGB", they said. Some of her colleagues had been hiding their true identities for years, although they maintained that the culture in the rest of the business was much better.

Fay Carr-Moniker of The Guardian newspaper then picked up the story, and through the newspaper's own channels (reportedly a former News of the World investigator) she managed to reveal a culture that was "Stasi-esque" in nature, with Taskforce employees being required to report on the behaviour of both other staff and managers.

Of course Facebook failed to comment on these reports, dismissing them as fantasy, and the story was buried as the Covid pandemic took hold. Fay apparently "took sabbatical leave" in New Zealand and has been unavailable for comment since. Her Twitter feed remains dark following her last tweet, which simply read "SHIT is fucked up".

Recent attempts on my part to contact Kareen have also drawn a blank.

Addendum: Both the Guardian and Wired stories are still available as at the time of writing (1 April 2020) but I will continue to conduct research.

Addendum the Second: It appears that the Guardian story is no longer available. Fay is also in hiding here with me in an undisclosed remote location. I have to publish now, even though I am not ready. Pray for me.


Another LieQuest 2022 entry.

There is a serious side to this. There is a lot of evidence, albeit anecdotal, to support the thesis that certain stickers are more likely to attract attention at airports. There's a Slashdot thread on it.