Tech workers are taking to TikTok to debate ‘fake work’
Former tech staffers have taken to TikTok to discuss and debate “fake work.”
Some said they witnessed or experienced not having enough work to do; others showed busy schedules.
Earlier this year, the PayPal Mafia’s Keith Rabois said he believes Meta and Google over-hired.
Some former employees of companies like Meta and Google are taking to TikTok to weigh in on the debate over “fake work” at tech giants.
The concept of “fake work” at tech companies echoes well-documented cases in the past where high-paid tech employees would sometimes “rest and vest” as they waited for their stock options to vest before leaving the company.
Now, with many tech companies trimming their headcount after hiring thousands during the pandemic, some within the tech industry have said firms over-hired to the point where there wasn’t enough work for employees.
Earlier this month, Kendall Smith, known by her TikTok name @roilysm, shared a story from Insider about PayPal Mafia member Keith Rabois saying workers at Meta and Google were doing “fake work.” Since Rabois’ comments, the notion has gained some traction with several Silicon Valley investors and founders.
“I 100% agree and can confirm this is the case,” Smith said in the video. “When I was at Facebook, the last year or so just felt like an internal fight over work,” she added.
Smith says on her LinkedIn profile that she worked at the company as a marketing manager from 2018 to 2022. Her video has garnered over 430,000 views on TikTok and multiple people who claim to be Meta and Google workers have also weighed in on the video.
“Over-hiring is not a problem unique to Meta or Google, there are many large corporations that grossly over-hire and leave it to the employees to create their own defensible scope of work,” Smith told Insider.
A former Google employee said in a duet with Smith’s video that he learned that working at Google was about “working smarter not harder.”
“I started out my career working for startups doing a ton of real work and then I joined Google,” Tony Aubé, who goes by the TikTok name @tony.aube, said. “I was thinking this is a major league. This is where I’ll do the most work in my life and I was so surprised to see that it was actually the opposite.”
Aubé said on his LinkedIn that he worked at Google AI from 2019 to 2020 as a senior product designer. In his video, he said he was given work that he was supposed to finish in two weeks that only took him a couple of days.
“I was told by my product manager that I was the fastest designer he had ever worked with at Google and other people told me I needed to pace myself because I will run out of work, which I did,” Aubé said. “Toward the end, I was working about 32 hours per week and I would spend about a full day every week working on personal projects because I finished everything else.”
Aube told Insider in a comment that he never saw anyone at the company “not doing any work or doing fake work.”
“I had a very pleasant time at Google, it’s a great company, and like I said in my video, they offer very good work-life balance and are absolutely killing it in their business and products, so they should maintain the great work-life balance,” he said.
Another former staffer, Maddie Macho, said that when she was at Meta she was paid $190,000 to do “nothing” at the company because the company wasn’t hiring anybody. Macho was a recruiter at Meta for about six months, according to her LinkedIn.
A spokesperson for Macho said there is no correlation between her experience in 2021 and the company’s recent layoffs.
Insider previously spoke with another former Meta recruiter, Britney Levy, who said in a TikTok video that she felt the company was “hoarding” workers.
“I mean, they were telling people not to work on things, but at the same time, there was a lot of work that needed to be done,” she said.
‘The exact opposite of my experience’
Not everyone at Meta, which employed 75,000 people as of earlier this year, agrees with the notion that employees were hired to do little to know work. One TikTok creator, Arianna Tong, says she couldn’t disagree more with the idea of fake work at Meta.
“I’ve seen so many videos chiming in and saying they did fake work at Meta,” @ariannatong said in a TikTok video. “I want to show you what my schedule looked like because this was the exact opposite of my experience.”
In the video, Tong shared a photo that she said was her schedule, which showed back-t0-back events. She worked as partnership manager at the company and then a board member on Meta’s New Product Experimentation Creator Product Advisory Council for nearly two years before leaving the company in March, according to her LinkedIn.
“I did not have to fight for work,” Tong said. “I was struggling. I was so burned out by the time that December came my boss basically said ‘You need a break.'”
Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was laying off another 10,000 workers after cutting 13% of its workforce late last year.
Spokespeople for Meta and Google did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
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