Despite public rebukes from several of his employees, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg resisted calls to label posts from President Trump with a warning sign in a similar manner to what Twitter did last month, according to media reports.
In a question-and-answer session with employees on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said the decision to leave up Trump’s post where the president wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was “the right action for where we are right now,” according to leaked audio obtained by Recode.
“We basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to that the reference is clearly to aggressive policing — maybe excessive policing — but it has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands,” Recode reported Zuckerberg said on the call, noting Facebook can still moderate Trump if it deems necessary.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sept. 19, 2019, in Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
“This isn’t a case where [Trump] is allowed to say anything he wants, or that we let government officials or policy makers say anything they want,” the Facebook CEO added.
Recode also noted there were tense exchanges between Zuckerberg and employees, with one asking Zuckerberg how many black people were involved in the decision to not take down or label the post (just one, Facebook’s global diversity officer, Maxine Williams, according to Zuckerberg).
Another member of his company asked, “How can we trust Facebook leadership if you show us a lack of transparency?”
Fox News has reached out to Facebook with a request for comment.
Facebook engineer Brandon Dail tweeted on Tuesday that “it’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” referencing the lack of action by the company on Trump’s posts.
Facebook software engineer Timothy Aveni said publicly on Monday that he was resigning as a result of the lack of action taken by Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook leadership.
“Mark [Zuckerberg] always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence,” Aveni wrote. “He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act on increasingly dangerous rhetoric.”
On Monday, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be donating $10 million to a number of groups working on racial justice.
“The organizations fighting for justice also need funding, so Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice,” Zuckerberg wrote in a late Sunday night post to his Facebook account. “We’re working with our civil rights advisors and our employees to identify organizations locally and nationally that could most effectively use this right now.”
Zuckerberg added that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has also donated large sums of money, “investing ~$40 million annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice.”
Several media reports, including The New York Times, on Monday reported that Facebook employees were holding “virtual walkouts” in response to Zuckerberg’s decision to leave Trump’s posts on the platform as is. Last week, Twitter put warning labels on a few of Trump’s tweets, including ones related to the protests.
Color Of Change, an organization that has been pushing Facebook and Zuckerberg to do more, thanked Facebook employees who walked out in protest.
A source familiar with Color Of Change said its president, Rashad Robinson, and its members were “not only just underwhelmed, but insulted” by Facebook and Zuckerberg’s response to the protests.
The source added that the $10 million in donations is “small relative to the potential” and “without meaning to the ultimate goal of protecting black lives” and needs to be investigated by criminal justice organizations.