Early Facebook staffers denounce Zuckerberg stance on Trump posts

Mark Zuckerberg

Nearly three dozen former employees from Facebook’s early days have blasted founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to act against controversial posts by US President Donald Trump as “cowardly” and a “betrayal” of company ideals.

KEY POINTS:

  • Dozens of former employees at Facebook attack CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to act against incendiary posts by President Donald Trump
  • Open letter reported by Trump’s opponents at the New York Times
  • Many owe their status as HNWI’s to Mr Zuckerberg
  • Snapchat earlier booted Trump from their discovery section, whilst keeping Biden

The open letter, initially reported by the New York Times, deepened a crisis facing Facebook’s leadership team, who had to defend their decision at a tense all-hands meeting the day prior following an employee walkout over the issue.

Criticism of Zuckerberg’s hands-off approach to speech by political leaders crescendoed last week, after rival social network Twitter began putting warning labels on several Trump tweets that the platform said contained misleading information and glorified violence.

Snapchat likewise took a hard line, booting Trump’s account on Wednesday from a curated “discover” section of its app which promotes fresh content. It said it would not amplify voices inciting “racist violence.” In response the Trump campaign claimed the company was attempting to rig the election.

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Facebook Inc, which left the same posts untouched, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

The former employees, including a staffer who opened Facebook’s office in Washington, implored Zuckerberg to implement checks on speech by political leaders as it does for other users, including fact-checks and labels on harmful posts.

“The company we joined valued giving individuals a voice as loud as their government’s — protecting the powerless rather than the powerful,” they wrote.

Facebook’s current approach, they said, “is not a noble stand for freedom. It is incoherent, and worse, it is cowardly.”

The group warned that Trump’s post on Friday, which used the racially charged phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in reference to protests over the police killing of a black man in Minnesota, could incite violence.

“In an age of live-streamed shootings, Facebook should know the danger of this better than most,” they said.

Via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Katie Paul. Editing by David Gregorio.

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