Mark Zuckerberg criticised by civil rights leaders over Donald Trump Facebook post
Civil rights leaders have criticised Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take no action against a Facebook post from Donald Trump appearing to threaten to start shooting “looters”, after a Monday night meeting with the company’s executives ended in acrimony.
“We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up,” Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robison said in a statement.
“He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters.
“Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”
The three activist leaders – the heads of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Color of Change – met Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, on Monday night. They discussed Trump’s Thursday night post, which urged the military to intervene in Minneapolis with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
The message, originally sent by Trump as a tweet before being cross-posted to Facebook, was restricted on Twitter after the platform decided it broke rules about glorifying violence. On Facebook, Zuckerberg personally intervened to leave the message up, arguing that the company has a policy to allow warnings of the use of force by state actors.
Zuckerberg’s decision led to a “virtual walkout“ of Facebook staff on Monday, with hundreds of employees downing tools in protest. A number of Facebook employees publicly expressed their dissent on rival social networks such as Twitter, and were quickly supported by senior managers at the company.
At least one employee has quit over the decision. Timothy J Aveni, a software engineer who worked on misinformation, said on Facebook that he had resigned on Monday. “Mark told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence,” Aveni wrote. “He showed us on Friday that was a lie … Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history.”
A Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian: “We recognise the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership.”