Facebook staff anger over Trump post

(BBC) – Facebook staff have spoken out against the tech giant’s decision not to remove or flag a controversial post by US President Donald Trump last week.

Mr Trump took to Facebook to repeat a tweet about the widespread protests in Minneapolis, following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Twitter had placed a warning over the content, which it said “glorified violence”, but Facebook said it did not violate its company policy.

Some staff said they were ‘ashamed’.

The president said he would “send in the National Guard”, and warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The post remains untouched on Facebook after founder Mark Zuckerberg said it did not violate the company’s policy around incitement of violence.

A “virtual walkout” is taking place today, with some employees leaving an out-of-office message explaining that they are protesting.

“People can agree or disagree on where we should draw the line, but I hope they understand our overall philosophy is that it is better to have this discussion out in the open, especially when the stakes are so high,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote in a post on the platform.

“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.”

“Silence is complicity”

Several employees expressed their frustration at the decision, on social media.

TrumpImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionTwitter hid the content of Mr Trump’s post behind by a warning label, but Facebook has not done likewise

“Facebook’s inaction in taking down Trump’s post inciting violence makes me ashamed to work here,” Lauren Tan, a software engineer wrote.

“I absolutely disagree with it… Silence is complicity.”

Others suggested that Facebook should have made an exception to the policy, given its context.

“We need to strive harder as a company, and industry, to have our Black colleagues’ and fellow citizens’ backs so that they are not having to face down institutionalised societal violence and systemic oppression alone,” added David Gillis, a director in product design at Facebook.

Other employees used the company’s internal messaging system to try to raise their concerns, The Verge reports.

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