Zuckerberg faces down employees demanding removal of Trump Facebook posts

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Facebook employees demanded that CEO Mark Zuckerberg reverse his decision not to censor Trump posts, which included one that said “when the looting starts the shooting starts.”

By Associated Press

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t budging over his refusal to remove posts by President Donald Trump about the current protests in the U.S., voting by mail, and other issues.

In response, some employees have publicly quit over the issue and civil rights leaders who met with him Monday night denounced Zuckerberg’s explanation for choosing to leave Trump’s posts alone as “incomprehensible.”

On Tuesday, a day after dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over the issue, Zuckerberg met with employees for a Q&A session held via online video. During that session, which had been moved forward from later in the week, Zuckerberg reportedly doubled down on his stance to leave Trump’s posts alone — although he did suggest that the company was considering changes to its existing policies around “state use of force,” which Trump’s Minneapolis post fell under.

Facebook rival Twitter flagged and demoted a Trump tweet in which he referenced protests over police violence in Minneapolis using the phrase “when the looting starts the shooting starts.”

Facebook let an identical message stand on its service. Zuckerberg explained his reasoning in a Facebook post Friday, a position he has since reiterated several times.

“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The resignations, which multiple engineers tweeted and posted on LinkedIn and Facebook, also began Tuesday.

“I am proud to announce that as of the end of today, I am no longer a Facebook employee,” tweeted Owen Anderson, who was an engineering manager at the company for two years. “To be clear, this was in the works for a while. But after last week, I am happy to no longer support policies and values I vehemently disagree with.”

Anderson did not immediately respond to a message for comment on Tuesday. But he wasn’t alone.

“Today, I submitted my resignation to Facebook,” Timothy J. Aveni, a software engineer who’d been at the company for a year, wrote on LinkedIn and on his Facebook page. “I cannot stand by Facebook’s continued refusal to act on the president’s bigoted messages aimed at radicalizing the American public. I’m scared for my country, and I’m watching my company do nothing to challenge the increasingly dangerous status quo.”

Aveni did not immediately respond to a message for further comment.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership,” Facebook said in a statement. “As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Zuckerberg and other Facebook leaders also met with civil rights leaders on Monday night.

Ebin Sandler:
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