Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to call out Donald Trump for a comment that got MAGA blocked on Twitter: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
When Trump tweeted in response to protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Twitter hid MAGA’s post behind a warning that said the tweet glorified violence, which is against Twitter’s rules. The White House’s later retweeted Trump’s first post with the hidden content and Twitter hid that too.
Zuckerberg responded to the same content on Friday with a post saying, “We think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”
At least six senior Facebook employees disagreed online over the weekend in a rare show of dissent with what they described as Facebook’s “passive policy.”
Staffers said the post has no place on Facebook, adding that they’re “disappointed” and “gravely concerned” it has not been removed, CNBC reported.
Some, working from home due to the coronavirus — held a virtual walkout and failed to log in for work Monday in protest, according to Bloomberg.
“Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” tweeted Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook’s Portal product line.
“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed.
“There isn’t a neutral position on racism,” tweeted Jason Stirman, a member of Facebook’s R&D team. “I don’t know what to do, but I know doing nothing is not acceptable. I’m a FB employee that completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about Trump’s recent posts, which clearly incite violence. I’m not alone inside of FB.”
Jason Toff, Facebook’s director of product management, tweeted, “I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”
Sara Zhang, a product designer, tweeted, “Internally we are voicing our concerns, so far to no avail. I personally will continue to bring it up until something has is changed. “
Zuckerberg said he disagreed with Twitter’s interpretation of Trump’s statement, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter saw the statement as incitement – encouraging police to shoot at protesters. He said he saw it as a warning to protesters that the police would shoot at them. His interpretation meant the post did not violate Facebook’s rules and would not be removed, Zuckerberg said.
“Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” Zuckerberg added. “I disagree strongly with how the president spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinised out in the open.”
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Facebook workers accused the company of applying its rules unevenly to avoid angering Trump, according to reports in the New York Times and the Verge. Zuckerberg controls 57.9 percent of the voting rights on Facebook’s board, the Guardian reported.
Last week, Zuckerberg said Facebook won’t fact-check politicians, drawing severe criticism. He said this at a time when major tech companies including as Apple, Google, Twitter, and Spotify are issuing statements in support of the Black community.
Sherrell Dorsey, founder of The Plug, linked a tweet to a database she compiled of tech companies and leaders who have spoken out in support of the Black community.