Facebook employees stage rare protest against Zuckerberg’s response to Trump
Facebook employees rarely protest the company for leaving a post by President Donald Trump that they say could cause violence. The employees who started to publicly criticize the social network on Twitter over the weekend have escalated their disapproval by organizing a virtual strike and symbolically changing their job profile pictures.
The social media giant has turned itself inabout the company’s mostly straightforward approach to political content. However, the internal disapproval has reached a new boiling point as Facebook’s inactivity contrasts with rival Twitter’s response to Trump’s posts.
After flagging two of Trump’s tweets via mail-in ballots for “possibly misleading information,” he placed anotherfor violating his rules against the glorification of violence. In the tweet, which was also released from the White House account, Trump said: “When the looting begins, the shootings begin.” The president commented on news of protests that broke out after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, who died after a white policeman nailed his neck to his knee. The incident was videotaped, and Floyd says in the footage that he could not breathe, which triggered protests across the country. Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after Floyd’s death.
Facebook left Trump’s post after the company found that the president’s statements weren’t violating his rules, possibly causing “the immediate risk of specific harm or danger.” This decision contradicts Twitter’s interpretation of the statements. Facebook enables discussions about the state use of violence. The world’s largest social network also has no hint like Twitter, which allows a politician to stay up to date even if he breaks his rules.
The decision prompted hundreds of Facebook employees to go on a “virtual strike” on Monday by taking the day off and asking for a break to support the demonstrators. The staff also added an automated message to their emails that they were out of the office to show that, according to a report by, they disagreed with the company’s position on Trump’s post The New York Times. Some employees have threatened to resign, while others have turned to Twitter to criticize Facebook’s decision, an unusual public reprimand from their own company.
Katie Zhu, Product Manager on Instagram, shared a screenshot of her free time request on Twitter. In the description of the request, she added #BLACKLIVESMATTER.
Facebook Messenger product designer Trevor Phillippi used #TakeAction in his criticism Tweet about his employer. Social media users who spoke out against Facebook used the image of a closed fist.
Other employees frankly disagreed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“Censoring information that could help people see the big picture * is * wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable regardless of who you are or whether it is up to date I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to bring about change, ”said Andrew Crow, who heads up the design for Facebook’s video chat device portalreferring to Zuckerberg.
Crow was not the only Facebook employee who spoke out publicly against the Facebook CEO. Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s newsfeed, said Zuckerberg “is wrong” and “will make the loudest effort to change his mind.”
Some employees said they weren’t sure what action Facebook should take, but doing nothing was not acceptable.
To underline their dissatisfaction, Facebook employees have reportedly changed their internal profile pictures on a workplace version of the social network to the Twitter logo Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St. John’s University School of Law.
According to reports, the company’s security team asked employees not to wear clothing Facebook brand clothing in protests to avoid “unwanted attention”.
Facebook said in a statement that employees who protest the company’s practice at Trump’s Posts will not be required to use their paid free time. “We recognize the pain many of our employees are experiencing, especially our black community. We encourage employees to speak openly if they disagree with the leadership. As we face more difficult content decisions, we will continue ask for their honest feedback. ” the company said in a statement.
Other companies joined Facebook workers who protested. Oren Frank, CEO of online therapy company Talkspace, said in a tweet that he had ended a partnership discussion with Facebook because the company “will not support a platform that encourages violence, racism, and lies.”
The internal revolt against Facebook is unprecedented, although the company has long been criticized for what content it leaves or pulls down. Liberals, and even their own employees, have tried to persuade the company to change its approach to political content in both advertisements and regular posts. Conservatives have complained about the right-wing speech of corporate censorship.
Trump was not satisfied with Twitter’s response and signed oneOn Thursday in an attempt to limit legal protection, social media networks received a federal law for posts created by their users. Social networks have refused to censor conservative language.
Late Friday, Zuckerberg defended the company’s decision to maintain the post of president.
“Although the post was worryingly historical, we decided to leave it out because the National Guard’s clues meant we should read it as a warning of government action, and we believe people need to know if the government plans to use violence use, “said Zuckerberg in a contribution. He added that the president made it clear in a later post that he was preventing violence.
Zuckerberg called Trump and “expressed concerns about the tone and rhetoric,” a source familiar with the call said Axios. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
“Zuckerberg will be under more pressure this time than in the past,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “How he reacts to it in my head will determine his true character.”
In spite of increasing criticism, Zuckerberg has stood by his stance on the political speech, so Bajarin said he would be surprised if Facebook changed its guidelines. It is too early to say whether Facebook employees will actually leave their jobs in protest as this will affect “their livelihood”.
Tech companies from Silicon Valley have a workplace culture in which they encourage their employees to express themselves. “We see a conflict between this spirit and what happens when people at the top make decisions that the rest disagree with,” said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at the Markulla Center for Applied Ethics in Santa Clara University.
Increasing numbers of employeeshave protested publicly about how their organizations deal with sexual harassment, defense contracts, and climate change. Google was a special hotspot for employee unrest. A year and a half ago, 20,000 Googlers left their offices around the world . Googlers also talked about the company .
While Facebook is no stranger to public criticism, Zuckerberg might be more willing to listen to its own employees, Raicu said.
Facebook typically doesn’t send political posts or ads to its third-party fact-checkers. However, the company has taken action in the past against an advertisement from the Trump re-election campaign. In 2018, Trump’s campaign released a controversial immigration ad Facebook had removed for violating its “sensational content” rules., an undocumented immigrant convicted in 2014 of murdering two California Sheriff MPs. He falsely tries to link Bracamontes’ crimes to the migrant caravan that finds its way from Mexico to the U.S. border. The video was allowed on Facebook even though the ad was pulled.
Facebook has a higher bar when a post comes from a politician because the company sees it as a direct political speech. March,Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, who looked like the politician was supporting Trump even though he hadn’t. Facebook marked the post as “partially incorrect information” after it was checked for facts. Trump also shared the video on Facebook and the warning appeared on his post. Although the video was shared by Trump, it is not considered a direct language because it is someone else’s clip. Twitter has added a “Manipulated Media” label to the same clip.
To help make some of the most difficult decisions about moderating content, Facebook is also creating a new supervisory board. However, the board will only start operating later this year.
Facebook has more than 48,200 employees worldwide, and most work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, thesaid it donated $ 10 million to racial justice groups. Former Mark Luckie has criticized the company for not only abandoning its black employees, but also black users, and falsely labeling their posts as hate speech.
“Facebook loves to raise money for the hope that people will forget about the company’s misdeeds,” Luckie said in a tweet on Monday.
The Color of Change advocacy group said in an email that Facebook’s donation is small and the company is not changing its rules or behavior, so the financial gesture is “irrelevant to the ultimate goal of protecting black lives”.