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On a call with President Donald Trump, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly “expressed concerns about the tone and rhetoric” the president was using in his social media posts about the nationwide protests against police brutality and outlined how Trump’s comments were putting the social media giant in a difficult position.
Axios reports that the president called Zuckerberg late Friday, after a day of back and forth between Facebook and the White House over Trump’s now infamous Friday 1 a.m. tweet threatening protestors in Minneapolis with action from the military as well as using the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a line that was used by segregationists in the 1960s.
The president’s Minneapolis tweet caused a storm of controversy immediately after it was published and led to Twitter flagging the tweet for glorifying violence. Axios reports that on Friday morning, Facebook contacted the White House about the incendiary nature of the post and “urged them to make a change” even though the post did not violate the company’s policies.
Later on Friday, Trump called Zuckerberg, and on the call, the Facebook chief upbraided the president’s “tone and rhetoric” and said he personally disagreed with Trump’s words, but Zuckerberg “didn’t make any specific requests,” sources familiar with the call told Axios. Also on the call, Zuckerberg reportedly made it clear that the president’s actions were putting Facebook in a difficult position.
The Zuckerberg call comes as the tension between the White House and the tech giants intensifies. Last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reaffirmed the company’s commitment to fact check information related to elections despite a fierce reaction from the Trump administration over a pair of Trump’s tweets that were flagged as misleading on the platform.
On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at removing some of the legal protections provided to social media platforms, arguing that the likes of Twitter and Facebook have “unchecked power” and were stifling conservative voices.
Facebook has publicly sought to remove itself from Trump’s war on social media companies, with Zuckerberg telling Fox News on Thursday that private companies should not regulate online speech. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg said in the interview. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
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