OAKLAND, California (AP) – Facebook employees are using Twitter and Facebook’s internal communications to express their frustration at CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave messages from President Donald Trump suggesting that protesters in Minneapolis could be shot.
Twitter highlighted and demoted Trump’s tweet about the protests when he used the phrase “when the looting begins, the shooting begins.” Facebook left it and Zuckerberg explained his reasoning on Friday in a Facebook post.
“I know that many people are upset that we have left the post of the President, but our position is that we should express as much as possible unless it poses an immediate risk of specific harm or perils set out in clear policies”, Zuckerberg wrote. .
Angry demonstrations have spread in the United States over the past week, sparking some of the most widespread racial unrest since the 1960s. The protests, which have been met with violent police actions in many cities, were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being tied to the sidewalk by an officer and putting his knee on the man’s handcuffs until he stopped with breathing.
Trump’s comment evoked the civil rights era by borrowing a phrase used by the Miami police chief in 1967 to warn of an aggressive police response to unrest in black neighborhoods.
On Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest the company’s decision not to touch the Trump posts, according to a report in the New York Times citing anonymous senior employees on Facebook. The Times report says tens of Facebook employees have “taken the day off by logging into Facebook’s systems and requesting free time to support protesters across the country.”
Employees also expressed their frustration in other ways, such as posting to Twitter, speaking to managers, and writing on Facebook’s internal communication network.
While virtual, this was the first time Facebook employees staged a strike in the company’s history. Social media giant employees were less outspoken than their peers at other tech companies like Google and Twitter.
“I work at Facebook and I’m not proud of what we look like. Most of the colleagues I spoke to feel the same way. We make our voices heard,” tweeted Jason Toff, a director of product management at Facebook who had been with the company for a year. works.
Toff, who has a verified Twitter account, had 131,400 likes and thousands of retweets from his comment. He did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment Monday.
“I don’t know what to do, but I know that doing nothing is not acceptable. I am an FB employee who completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about Trump’s recent reports, which clearly incite violence. I am not alone in FB, there is no neutral position on racism, “tweeted design manager Facebook Facebook Jason Stirman.
Stirman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Sara Zhang, a product designer at the company, tweeted that Facebook’s decision not to respond to messages inciting violence neglects other options to keep our community safe. The Policy Pigeon drills us into addressing harmful user-centric content in two ways: keep or remove content. ”
“I believe this is a self-imposed limitation and beg leadership to revisit the solution,” she continued. Zhang declined to comment on The Associated Press.
“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face new tough decisions about the content ahead, we will continue to look for their honest feedback, “Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois said in a statement Monday.
As of Thursday, Facebook has moved a weekly employee Q&A with executives to Tuesday to respond to employee concerns.
In late Sunday, Zuckerberg posted again on Facebook, pledging a $ 10 million donation to racial justice groups. But he made no mention of Trump’s reports. Instead, he emphasized Facebook’s role in distributing the video about Floyd’s death.
“We need to know the name of George Floyd. But it is clear that Facebook also needs to do more to protect people and ensure that our systems do not reinforce prejudice, ”Zuckerberg wrote.
Historically, Twitter has taken stronger stances than its bigger rival, including a complete ban on political ads announced by Twitter last November.
That’s partly because Facebook, a much larger company with a wider audience, targeted by regulators due to its size and power, has more to lose. And partly because the CEOs of the companies are not always face to face with their role in society.
Over the weekend, Twitter changed the background and logo of its main Twitter account to black from its usual blue in support of the Black Lives Matter protesters and added a # blacklivesmatter hashtag. Facebook did the same with its own logo on its site, but without the hashtag.
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