Facebook Hit By Staff Backlash Over Trump Posts

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg singled out for criticism by senior-level staff after allowing presidential post that Twitter labelled as ‘glorifying violence’

Facebook is facing a vocal backlash from staff critical of its refusal to moderate posts from US president Donald Trump, with employees staging a virtual walk-out and taking to social media to rebuke their employer.

On Monday some employees – all of whom are currently working from home – refused to clock in in a protest recalling a mass walkout at Google in 2018 over sexual harassment.

Several of those criticising the company identified themselves as senior managers, in an unusual instance of high-level staff publicly taking their own company to task.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” wrote Ryan Freitas, who identifies himself on Twitter as head of product design for Facebook’s News Feed.

mark-zuckerberg-f8-2017 facebook
Mark Zuckerberg at F8 2017. Image credit: Facebook

‘Not proud’

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” wrote Jason Toff, Facebook’s director of product management former and former head of video app Vine, on Twitter.

“The majority of co-workers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

Jason Stirman, who works in research and development at Facebook, wrote that he “completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about Trump’s recent posts”, and added, “I’m not alone inside of FB.”

Trump last week published a post on social media that said he was deploying the national guard to Minneapolis amidst protests over the death of George Floyd, saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

Twitter screened the message, saying it violated its rules against glorifying violence, while continuing to make the post accessible.  However, the same message currently remains untouched on Facebook.

Outcry

Twitter also recently labelled two of Trump’s posts as potentially misleading, prompting Trump to say he would bring in government regulation of social media.

The outcry caused Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to to write a post on his own Facebook profile defending his decision, saying it is “better to have this discussion out in the open”.

The company later said it would be donating $10 million (£8m) to social justice causes.

Facebook said it encourages employees to “speak openly” about disagreements.

The company confirmed that Zuckerberg and Trump spoke on Friday, in a conversation both called “productive”, according to the Axios news website.

Zuckerberg faced criticism last year after he controversially decided Facebook would not fact-check political advertising on the platform.

Tech companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft have  been targeted with protests by their own staff over issues such as working conditions, climate change and military contracts.

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