What you need to know
- Facebook employees have come out to publicly criticize Zuckerberg's handling of a Donald Trump post last week.
- Employees have also staged a virtual workout in protest and in solidarity with protestors across the U.S.
- Zuckerberg has promised to donate an additional $10 million to nonprofits tackling racial justice.
Facebook employees are openly revolting against CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the company's decision to leave a post by Donald Trump, censured on Twitter for being an incitement to violent, up on its platform.
For some, it went further than simply allowing the story to stay up on its platform, "Mark Zuckerberg Comes to Trump's Defense," The New Republic's headline went as the CEO went on Fox News to denounce Twitter. It's against this backdrop that Facebook employees finally spoke out in open revolt.
Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind.— Ryan Freitas (@ryanchris) June 1, 2020
Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture *is* wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy. I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.— Andrew (@AndrewCrow) June 1, 2020
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. There isn't a neutral position on racism.— Stirman (@stirman) May 30, 2020
I've shared others posts, but I need to be clear–FB is on the wrong side of this and I can't support their stance. Doing nothing isn't Being Bold. Many of us feel this way.— Nate Butler 🖤 (@iamnbutler) June 1, 2020
The criticism didn't spring out of nowhere. The Verge reported on the internal debate that spawned once Facebook had decided that Trump's post would find a home on its platform unopposed.
Would it be possible to explain in more detail the interpretation of our community standards?" one employee asked. "Does this post violate them but get an exemption, or is it not violating?"
But by mid-afternoon Pacific time on Friday, employees had not received a response — and they were beginning to grow frustrated. "It's egregious that nobody from policy has chimed in or provided any sort of context here," one employee said. When another employee defended Facebook's silence by suggesting that top executives were likely debating their next steps, the original poster replied: "They've already made an official decision by keeping the post up after it's been reported. They should communicate their justification for the decision."
Another employee suggested that no one had responded to them "because Facebook's community of employees has demonstrated many times that private deliberations will be leaked to the press and taken out of context."
"I don't think employees are asking anything here that the public doesn't deserve to know," a colleague responded. But another post viewed by The Verge suggests that an initial review of Trump's "shooting" post "was deemed to be non-violating."
"Makes me sad and frankly ashamed," one employee wrote in response. "Hopefully this wasn't the final assessment? Hopefully there is still someone somewhere discussing how and why this is clearly advocating for violence?"
Amid this backdrop, Mark Zuckerberg this weekend pledged $10 million to nonprofits engaged in the work of battling racial injustice across America. The CEO says that this will be in addition to the $40 million already donated on an annual basis. "I hope that as a country we can come together to understand all of the work that is still ahead and do what it takes to deliver justice -- not just for families and communities that are grieving now, but for everyone who carries the burden of inequality," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
Like with YouTube's donation, critics were quick to point out that Facebook's platform contributes to the injustice the donation purports to help address. And for the employees who carried out a virtual walkout today, it wasn't enough.
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