OAKLAND, California (AP) – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, does not alter his refusal to take action against inflammatory messages from President Donald Trump who spread misinformation about postal voting and, according to many, encouraged violence against protesters.
However, his critics are multiplying. Some workers have publicly quit the issue, and civil rights leaders who met him on Monday night denounced Zuckerberg’s statement that he chose to leave Trump’s posts alone as “incomprehensible.”
A day after dozens of Facebook employees held a virtual walkout on the issue, the Facebook chief met with employees on Tuesday for a Q&A session via online video. During that session, which had shifted later in the week, Zuckerberg reportedly doubled his stance to leave Trump’s posts alone – although he suggested the company is considering making changes to its existing “state use of violence” policy , which included Trump’s post in Minneapolis.
Facebook rival Twitter flagged and downgraded a Trump tweet referring to Minneapolis police brutality protests saying “when the looting begins, the shooting begins.” But Facebook left an identical message on its service. Zuckerberg explained his reasoning on Friday in a Facebook post, a position he has repeated several times since.
“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. .
The layoff, which was tweeted and posted by several engineers on LinkedIn and Facebook, also started Tuesday.
“I’m proud to announce that I’m no longer a Facebook employee as of today,” tweeted Owen Anderson, who was an engineering manager at the company for two years. “To be clear, this was in the works for a while. But after last week, I am happy that I no longer support policies and values that I strongly disagree with. “
Anderson did not immediately respond to a message for comment on Tuesday. But he was not alone.
“Today I submitted my resignation to Facebook,” said Timothy J. Aveni, a software engineer who had worked with the company for a year, on LinkedIn and on his Facebook page. “I cannot vouch for Facebook’s continued refusal to follow through on the President’s bigotry of radicalizing the American public. I fear my country and see how my company is doing nothing to to challenge increasingly dangerous status quo. “
Aveni did not immediately respond to a message for further comment.
“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, “Facebook said in a statement.” As we face new difficult decisions regarding future content, we will continue to look for their honest feedback. “
Barry Schnitt, who was Facebook’s director of communications and public policy from 2008 to 2012, wrote a sizzling Medium post on Monday. “Facebook may even say and believe it is on the side of free speech,” he wrote. “In fact, it has placed itself on the side of profit and cowardice.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Facebook’s choices calm down those in power who made misinformation, shameless racism and incitement to violence a part of their platform,” he added, urging Facebook leaders take on responsibility and “show the world that you don’t put profit above values.”
Zuckerberg and other Facebook leaders also met with civil rights leaders on Monday evening. That conversation apparently didn’t go well.
“We are disappointed and baffled by Mark’s incomprehensible statements for allowing Trump posts to continue to exist,” three civil rights leaders wrote in a joint statement. “He showed no understanding of the historical or contemporary suppression of voters and refuses to acknowledge how Facebook facilitates Trump’s call for violence against protesters.”
Signatures to that statement were Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.
“Mark sets a very dangerous precedent for other voices that would say similarly damaging things on Facebook,” the three leaders said.
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