Facebook Workers Criticize Zuckerberg's Inaction Over Trump

Joanna Estrada
June 2, 2020

Unlike Twitter, which censored and hid President Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" tweet last week, Facebook chose to leave the same post on its platform untouched - though CEO Mark Zuckerberg did reportedly raise concerns over Trump's "tone" and "rhetoric" during a subsequent phone call with the president.

Still, the criticism of Mr Zuckerberg marked a rare case of high-level employees publicly taking their own CEO to task, with at least three of the seven critical posts seen by Reuters coming from people who identified themselves as senior managers. "Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind", said Ryan Freitas, the director of product design for Facebook's News Feed. "I focused on organizing 50+ likeminded folks into something that looks like internal change".

"We need to strive harder as a company, and industry, to have our Black colleagues' and fellow citizens' backs so that they are not having to face down institutionalised societal violence and systemic oppression alone", added David Gillis, a director in product design at Facebook. He told investors: "Overall, we see dispute as a negative for social media given potential for increased media scrutiny on social media and Internet technology companies entering the 2020 elections, and for content policies to potentially alienate one or both political parties".

On Friday, Twitter responded once again to a Trump tweet, this time after he used the platform to warn protesters outraged by the death at police hands of an unarmed black man that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". But while Twitter slapped a warning on the post and hid it from view, Facebook left the message intact.

Some of the dissenting employees directly praised Twitter's response.

In a long Twitter thread, he said he understood the logic of Facebook's decision, but said: "I think it would have been right for us to make a "spirit of the policy" exception that took more context into account".

U.S. President Trump is targeting social media companies and looking to narrow some of the protections that they have relating to the content their users post. "But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it's newsworthy", Andrew Crow, the head of design for Facebook's Portal video-phone tweeted. I'm a FB employee that completely disagrees with Mark's decision to do nothing about Trump's recent posts, which clearly incite violence.

Facebook would donate $10 million to groups working to tackle racial injustice, he said, while also pointing to the tens of millions of dollars more that his personal philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, invested in similar causes each year. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Advertisement Facebook, just as it did with Trump's remarks on the ongoing unrest, reacted differently, with Zuckerberg telling Fox News on Thursday that he believes "strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online".

In response, President Trump signed an executive order against online censorship across social media, writing "When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a unsafe power".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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