Civil Rights Groups, Facebook Employees Pressure Mark Zuckerberg to Censor Trump

Mark Zuckerberg drinking
Getty/Chip Somodevilla

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized by civil rights leaders and faced internal turmoil with employees over his decision on how to handle President Donald Trump’s posts on his platform. Civil rights groups issued a joint statement after meeting with Zuckerberg stating: “We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up.”

Business Insider reports that Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to remove Facebook posts by President Trump has resulted in criticism from civil rights leaders and internal turmoil amongst Facebook employees.

Breitbart News reported that Facebook employees are angered by Zuckerberg’s ruling to leave comments made by President Trump on the platform took to Twitter over the weekend to express their dissatisfaction with his refusal to censor the president. Many employees praised Twitter for taking action on President Trump’s recent tweets which prompted a recent executive order on social media.

One Facebook executive named Ryan Freitas, a director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed, stated in a tweet that “Mark [Zuckerberg] is wrong,” adding that he had mobilized “50+ likeminded folks” to lobby for change at Facebook internally.

Facebook’s decision not to censor the President’s posts came shortly after Twitter censored a tweet from President Trump in which he addressed violent protesters stating, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” behind a warning label noting that the tweet violated Twitter’s rules relating to “glorifying violence.”

Zuckerberg stated in a post that while he found the message “deeply offensive,” the company had determined that it did not violate its policy against “incitements to violence.” On Tuesday, it was reported that according to leaked audio obtained by the Verge.  Zuckerberg addressed employees about the decision in a video conference call on Friday in which he stated that the Silicon Valley giant could change its policies relating to the moderation of posts by politicians, a policy that would be primarily aimed at Trump.

“There is a real question coming out of this, which is whether we want to evolve our policy around the discussion of state use of force,” Zuckerberg said. “Over the coming days, as the National Guard is now deployed, probably the largest one that I would worry about would be excessive use of police or military force. I think there’s a good argument that there should be more bounds around the discussion around that,” he added.

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg joined civil rights leaders to discuss the issue. The groups said in a joint statement: “We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up.”

Leaders from the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Color of Change added: “He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters. Mark is setting a precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider: “We’re grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback with Mark and Sheryl. It is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.”

The decision to allow the President’s posts to remain on the platform have resulted in some employees resigning from the firm. Timothy J. Aveni, a software engineer at the company, wrote on his own Facebook page on Monday: “I’m resigning from my job at Facebook.”

Aveni continued to say: “Mark 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. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act on increasingly dangerous rhetoric. Since Friday, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand and process the decision not to remove the racist, violent post Trump made Thursday night, but Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history.”

In a separate post on LinkedIn, Aveni added: “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.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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