Internal War Erupts Within Facebook Over Trump Looting Comment

The staff of Facebook are revolting against founder Mark Zuckerberg. This after the founder chose not to pull notorious Trump comment.

How do you solve a problem like Donald Trump? If he makes inflammatory comments that clearly violate community guidelines, should you treat those comments like you would anyone else or do you give preferential treatment to the US president? For Twitter, the response was to cover the comments with a notice saying that it glorified violence. For Snapchat, the decision was to refuse to promote Trumps account. If anything, it is showing that social media is finally having enough.

Of course, there is one noticeable site missing from that list: Facebook. Internally, it seems that things have grown tense over the Trump situation. Executives of Facebook have decided not to touch Trumps comments. The response from employees has been, at the very least, angry. From MarketWatch:

The employees, who requested time off in support of protesters nationwide, included automated email messages saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest. Other workers have threatened to quit, while some have circulated petitions.

“I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” Jason Toff, Facebook’s director of product management, tweeted Sunday. “The majority of co-workers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

At least one employee, Owen Anderson, announced via tweet he was leaving Facebook on Monday. “To be clear, this was in the works for a while,” he said. “But after last week, I am happy to no long (sic) support policies and values I vehemently disagree with.”

Another, Timothy Aveni, an engineer who worked on misinformation tools, said he was resigning. “Mark [Zuckerberg] always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie,” Aveni said in a Facebook post Monday.

Shortly after the story broke, Zuckerberg responded to the internal backlash saying that he will review Facebooks policies. From The Guardian:

Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook will review its content policies after facing widespread backlash, including from its own employees, over the decision to leave up controversial posts from Donald Trump.

Facebook will look at improving content policies while also building products to advance racial justice, the CEO said on Friday in response to the protests in the United States.

“I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week,” Zuckerberg said in a lengthy Facebook post, referring to his decision not to remove inflammatory content by Trump containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which has racist origins and was censored by Twitter, a Facebook rival.

“We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions,” Zuckerberg’s statement continued.

“Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down – not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon.”

All of this, of course, is happening amidst international protests against racial injustice. This after a police officer killed George Floyd after he was choked to death via a knee to the neck. Already, impeached US president, Donald Trump, signed an executive order attempting to kill Section 230 that affords legal protections to platforms. That was in response to another pair of tweets that Twitter fact-checked about mail-in ballots.

Whether a promise from Zuckerberg to review their policies is enough to quell the anger internally directed at him remains to be seen. If anything, Facebook is increasingly looking like the odd network out thanks to Zuckerberg’s decision. In this climate, it’s not a good look for the network at the absolute minimum.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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