‘Ashamed to work here’: Dozens of Facebook employees protest Mark Zuckerberg’s hands-off approach to ‘inflammatory’ Trump posts
While Twitter has been fact-checking some of President Donald Trump’s tweets recently — much to his chagrin — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t been as proactive when it comes to posts by the president and his allies. And some Facebook employees, according to New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac, are not happy about it.
Frenkel and Issac report that on Monday, June 1, dozens of Facebook employees “protested executives’ decision not to do anything about inflammatory posts that President Trump had placed on the giant social media platform over the last week.”
“The employees, who took the day off by logging into Facebook’s systems and requesting time off to support protesters across the country, also added an automated message to their e-mails saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest,” according to the Times reporters. Taking the day off, they observe, is a “virtual ‘walkout’ of sorts” for the Facebook workers.
Trump’s critics have been arguing that Facebook needs to do a lot more fact-checking of his posts, which is what Twitter is now doing: Twitter has flagged some of the president’s tweets for possible inaccuracy, although without actually removing them. But at Facebook, Frenkel and Issac note, Zuckerberg has maintained more of “hands-off approach to what people post” — including Trump — and while Twitter has “acted on Mr. Trump’s tweets,” Facebook has “left them alone.”
Zuckerberg has asserted that while he, personally, finds some of Trump’s posts objectionable, he won’t remove them for that reason.
On May 29, Zuckerberg was critical of some inflammatory Trump tweets, writing, “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity, but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression.”
Zuckerberg was specifically referring to a controversial tweet in which Trump wrote, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — a phrase that, infamously, was used in 1967 by the controversial Miami Police Chief Walter Headley and in 1968 by segregationist George Wallace (who ran for president that year on an unapologetically pro-segregation platform).
....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim… https://t.co/1KhT776DPw— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1590727994.0
It was also on May 29 that Facebook engineer Lauren Tan tweeted, “Facebook’s inaction in taking down Trump’s post inciting violence makes me ashamed to work here. Silence is complicity.”