Several Facebook employees on Monday staged a “virtual walkout” in protest at the social networking giant’s policies regarding a recent controversial post by President Donald Trump on its platform.
The employees took to Twitter, publicly announcing their solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter protests that have seized the nation since the death of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer on May 25.
“Today I am participating in a virtual walkout over Facebook’s recent decisions not to moderate posts that we believe violate our platform standards,” posted one Facebook employee.
Another employee tweeted: “As allies we must stand in the way of danger, not behind. I will be participating in today’s virtual walkout in solidarity with the black community inside and outside FB.”
Several Facebook employees have come out in the open to protest the social media giant’s stand on not taking action on a controversial post from Trump about the Minnesota protests.
“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,” David Gillis, Director, Product Design at Facebook, said in a tweet on Sunday.
While Twitter last week put out a “public interest notice” on the tweet for violating the platform’s policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.
Defending the decision to not take action on the controversial posts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said that its “policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force”.
“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be,” he said.
“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” Zuckerberg added.
In a series of tweets, Gillis argued that policy “needs to evolve” and take more context into account.
“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,” he said.
“At any rate, when we have to vigorously debate whether to make an exception to the way we interpret and enforce a given policy (as happened on Friday), this often indicates that said policy needs to evolve. I think that is the case here,” he said.
Another Facebook employee tweeted that he was not proud of how Facebook reacted.
“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, Director of Product Management at Facebook.