Mark Zuckerberg: Decision To Leave President Trump’s Posts Up Was ‘Wrenching’

By Amit Chowdhry ● June 2, 2020
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently conducted a call with employees who were protesting about the inaction surrounding recent violence-inciting posts by President Trump. These are the details.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently conducted a call with employees who were protesting about the inaction surrounding recent violence-inciting posts by President Trump. Zuckerberg acknowledged that many people would be upset with the company about the decision, but he was firm about resisting the blocking of the posts involving the protests of George Floyd’s death.

During the call, Zuckerberg said that it was a “tough decision” and it was “thorough,” according to The New York Times.

This is the main post in question:

The call was scheduled for Thursday, but it was moved up to today after hundreds of the company’s employees staged a virtual walkout on Monday. Zuckerberg explained that the company’s principles and policies around free speech showed that “the right action where we are right now is to leave this up.”

“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day. Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. This moment calls for unity and calmness, and we need empathy for the people and communities who are hurting. We need to come together as a country to pursue justice and break this cycle,” wrote Zuckerberg in a previous message.

Zuckerberg added: “Although the post had a troubling historical reference, we decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force. Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be. The President later posted again, saying that the original post was warning about the possibility that looting could lead to violence. We decided that this post, which explicitly discouraged violence, also does not violate our policies and is important for people to see.”

Several journalists pointed out that this decision also contradicts earlier statements from Zuckerberg in front of U.S. Congress a few months ago when he said that when anyone including politicians is saying things that are calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm would be taken down.

According to Business Insider, Zuckerberg said that he really struggled with the decision. “It’s been something that I’ve been struggling with basically all day, ever since I woke up…” said Zuckerberg during the call. “This has been personally pretty wrenching for me.”

Zuckerberg said that he knew that he would have to “separate out” his personal opinion in making this decision.

“Knowing that when we made this decision we made, it was going to lead to a lot of people upset inside the company, and the media criticism we were going to get,” Zuckerberg commented.

Civil rights groups were shocked by the response from Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. A number of Facebook employees publicly resigned following the decision.

The pressure was also turned up for Facebook when Twitter decided to label President Trump’s tweets as violating policies around glorifying violence. Twitter also censored a tweet from President Trump about inaccurate statements involving mailing ballots.

“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician. We have been in touch with the White House today to explain these policies as well,” Zuckerberg pointed out in a post.

Some of Facebook’s employees said it should have been an easy decision to censor Trump’s posts as it incited violence. But they believe Zuckerberg was acting in a subservient manner to Republicans out of fear of having the company regulated.

“I am disappointed in Mark’s failure to follow through with his promise of holding politicians accountable when their words ‘could risk imminent harm” of the people,’” wrote Zack Argyle, manager for React Native at Facebook in a tweet.

Argyle is one of out many company employees who have criticized this decision on social media.

When Twitter started labeling President Trump’s tweets, Zuckerberg said that Facebook does not want to be “arbiter of truth” in comparison. Zuckerberg also pointed out that what world leaders post online should be in the public interest.

Many people have also pointed out that there is a double standard as regular citizens often get removed from social media sites for inciting violence on platforms.

Zuckerberg insisted that we all have the responsibility for creating change around racism. And Facebook announced it would donate $10 million towards efforts committed to ending racial injustices.

Along with the $10 million, Zuckerberg also noted that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has been one of the largest funders (investing about $40 million annually) for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice. Here is a post he wrote about the commitment: