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Mark Zuckerberg Faces Backlash From Employees Following Facebook’s Failure To Censure President Trump

Mark Zuckerberg is facing backlash from his employees after refusing to take a stance against posts made by US President Donald Trump.

Several senior Facebook employees have publicly criticized the CEO for refusing to take action when Twitter has censured Trump’s tweets for ‘glorifying violence’.

Protests and rioting continue in US this week over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose chilling death was recorded and shared on social media.

The Americans have come out in large numbers to protest police brutality and Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s position as he described it as ‘an institution committed to free expression’.

The US president had posted on Facebook and Twitter that he would respond to the violent protests with military force, saying in part, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter flagged the tweet by hiding it from view and warning users but Facebook did not take any action.

Facebook employees were unhappy with their company’s stance compared to Twitter’s, which last week also flagged two of Mr Trump’s tweets, prompting the president to issue an executive order against social media platforms.

Ryan Freitas, who leads Facebook’s News Feed design team, tweeted “Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind.”

Jason Toff, who joined Facebook as a director of product management a year ago, revealed an upsurge in employee activism within the company.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” he tweeted. “The majority of co-workers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

The protest inside the giant social media company forced Mr Zuckerberg to post two messages within a span of three days. One message explained his decision while the other offered a $10 million donation to groups working on racial justice.

Tech staffers have proven to be a force in effecting change in the Silicon valley. Previously, companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon have been targeted by their own employees over issues such as working conditions, climate change and military contracts.

Across the tech industry, executives and companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix as well as Uber, Twitter, Salesforce and Slack all expressed their support towards anti-racism and criminal justice campaigns.

They did this through messages to their employees, on their homepages or by posting on their social media accounts.

“To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter,” said Netflix, while Amazon said: “The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop.”

Mr Zuckerberg expressed on his own Facebook account that he had been struggling with how to respond to Mr Trump’s posts.

“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” he said.

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

It was however, later revealed that Mr Zuckerberg had had a ‘productive’ phone call with the President on Sunday. His employees then took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction over the whole matter.

Lauren Tan, who left Netflix to join Facebook as a software engineer earlier this year, tweeted: “Facebook’s inaction in taking down Trump’s post inciting violence makes me ashamed to work here.”

“Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture is wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable.” Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook’s Portal video-conferencing device, added.

Jason Stirman, who works on R&D at Facebook, said he “completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about Trump’s recent posts,” adding “I’m not alone inside of FB.”

Following the criticism from his employees, Mr Zuckerberg made another post. “We stand with the Black community,” he wrote. “But it’s clear Facebook also has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias.”

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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