Facebook employees share anger and frustration after Mark Zuckerberg refuses to delete Trump threats

Trump referred to protesters as 'THUGS' and suggested they could be shot

Andrew Griffin
Monday 01 June 2020 11:17
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President Donald Trump with Attorney General William Barr, make remarks before signing an executive order in the Oval Office that will punish Facebook, Google and Twitter for the way they police content online
President Donald Trump with Attorney General William Barr, make remarks before signing an executive order in the Oval Office that will punish Facebook, Google and Twitter for the way they police content online

Numerous Facebook employees have criticised the company and Mark Zuckerberg after he refused to delete controversial posts from Donald Trump.

The president's posts – which came early during protests against police brutality and racial inequality in Minneapolis, and before they widely spread across the country – called protesters "THUGS" and suggested that they could be shot.

"These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen," Mr Trump wrote in the posts on both Facebook and Twitter. "Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"

Very soon after the posts went live on Twitter, the site hid them behind a warning indicating that they "glorify violence", as well as placing restrictions intended to stop them being widely shared.

But Facebook opted to take no action, and the posts are still accessible as normal on Mr Trump's page. Mr Zuckerberg has justified the decision by arguing that Facebook should not be "the arbiter of truth", and seemingly criticising Twitter for its actions.

Now a host of Facebook employees have spoken out about that decision, arguing that the company had made the wrong call and that the post should be flagged as on Twitter or removed entirely.

Many indicated that they had been working to agitate for change within Facebook but had found themselves angry and frustrated with how the company had dealt with the problems.

"I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up," wrote Jason Toff, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as director of product management. "The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard."

Others explicitly criticised Mr Zuckerberg's decision and indicated they were working to reverse it.

"Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture *is* wrong," wrote Andrew Chow, head of design for Facebook's Portal video chat hardware. "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."

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

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