CEO acknowledges many staff believe social network ‘should have labeled’ president’s post criticized for inciting violence
Kari Paul and agencies
Sat 6 Jun 2020 00.24 EDT
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Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook will review its content policies after facing widespread backlash, including from its own employees, over the decision to leave up controversial posts from Donald Trump.
Facebook will look at improving content policies while also building products to advance racial justice, the CEO said on Friday in response to the protests in the United States.
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“I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week,” Zuckerberg said in a lengthy Facebook post, referring to his decision not to remove inflammatory content by Trump containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which has racist origins and was censored by Twitter, a Facebook rival.
“We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions,” Zuckerberg’s statement continued.
“Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down – not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon.”
Zuckerberg has faced significant backlash over the choice not to remove Trump’s post this week amid nationwide protests over police brutality.
Internal documents from Facebook show thousands of employees opposed the CEO’s decision, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
In response to growing unrest among employees, the tech CEO held an emergency town hall meeting this week, according to the Post, during which 5,500 workers voted on questions for him.
The one that got the highest number of votes asked: “Can we please change our policies around political free speech? Fact checking and removal of hate speech shouldn’t be exempt for politicians.”
Meanwhile, one internal message board at Facebook with hundreds of participants questioned whether the social media giant has an “abusive relationship” with the president, the Post reported.
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Criticism of Zuckerberg’s content moderation decisions has come from former and current employees at all levels of the company, including senior staff.
Also this week, nearly three dozen founding Facebook employees wrote an open letter to Zuckerberg opposing the decision to leave the post up. Current employees staged a virtual walkout, and the online therapy company Talkspace cut ties with Facebook over the issue.
Facebook did not respond to request for comment..