Facebook employees have spoken out against Mark Zuckerberg after he refused to remove an insensitive and potentially dangerous social media post by President Trump. Last week, Trump issued a tweet in which he seemed to encourage police to shoot those rioting following the murder of George Floyd.
“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote, quoting former Miami police chief Walter Headley, who issued the statement in December of 1967 in response to violent crime during the holiday season.
While Twitter hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning, Zuckerberg chose not to remove a Facebook version of the post, leaving numerous employees outraged to the point of publicly speaking out against their boss.
“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,” Andrew Crow, the head of design for Facebook’s Portal video-phone tweeted. “I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.”
Prior to Crow’s tweet, Jason Stirman, a member of Facebook’s R&D team, posted: “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.”
Zuckerberg said on Friday that while he disagreed with Trump’s tweet, he interpreted it differently. He felt the statement warned protestors that police would shoot them, as opposed to Trump encouraging police to shoot at protestors.
“Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” Zuckerberg said. “I disagree strongly with how the president spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”
This ultimately led many Facebook employees to rebel against Zuckerberg, again, publicly criticizing their boss, while others appealed to the company’s oversight board, which rules on content moderation.
“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” said Ryan Freitas, the director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed.
A number of the comments directed at Zuckerberg by his own employees come as the Facebook CEO recently issued a $10 million donation from Facebook to organizations working on racial justice.