Several senior Facebook employees publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the company’s inaction over President Donald Trump’s incendiary posts about the Minneapolis protests against police brutality.
Facebook has faced a storm of criticism since last Friday, when it left up a Trump post that contained a threat to use military action against protestors in Minneapolis and also used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a line that was used by segregationists in the 1960s. Twitter, by comparison, flagged Trump’s tweet for breaking its policies and hid it behind a warning label.
In a post on Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained Facebook’s decision to leave Trump’s post up, writing that although he personally had “a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” the company’s “position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”
This weekend, a number of Facebook employees publicly rebuked Zuckerberg’s strategy on the Trump posts.
Ryan Freitas, director of product design at Facebook tweeted, “Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind. I apologize if you were waiting for me to have some sort of external opinion. I focused on organizing 50+ likeminded folks into something that looks like internal change.”
“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard,” said Jason Toff, a director of product management at Facebook.
“Inaction is not the answer. Facebook leadership is wrong. I have voiced my concerns internally and I will continue to do it. I believe in our mission. I believe in my teammates. I hope we will do and be better,” wrote Diego Mendes a product design manager at Facebook ARVR.
“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,” wrote Andrew Crow, head of design at Facebook Portal.
David Gillis, a director of product design at Facebook, tweeted, “I believe Trump’s ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ tweet (cross-posted to FB), encourages extra-judicial violence and stokes racism. Respect to @Twitter’s integrity team for making the enforcement call. While I understand why we chose to stay squarely within the four corners of our violence and incitement policy, I think it would have been right for us to make a “spirit of the policy” exception that took more context into account.”
“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,” wrote Jason Stirman, a design manager at Facebook.
Later on Sunday, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would commit $10 million to fight racial injustice.