Facebook employees criticize company position on Trump’s George Floyd posts
Facebook employees are publicly criticizing the company for not taking action against President Trump’s comments on protests against police brutality in Minnesota.
At least seven Facebook employees have criticized CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision.
Jason Stirman, a design manager at the company, said that while he doesn’t know what to do, “doing nothing is not acceptable.”
“I’m a FB employee that completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about Trump’s recent posts, which clearly incite violence,” he tweeted. “I’m not alone inside of FB. There isn’t a neutral position on racism.”
Jason Toff, director of product management, said he is “not proud” of the company’s position.
“The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way,” he wrote. “We are making our voice heard.”
Tensions between the staff and top executives were exacerbated after Trump used his social media accounts to weigh in on the demonstrations in Minneapolis against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week while in police custody. Video of the incident showed a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for roughly eight minutes, leaving him unable to breathe.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Earlier in the week, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired Chauvin and three other officers who were on the scene.
By the time Trump tweeted Friday, footage showed protesters in the city cheering as the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct was set ablaze.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president wrote Friday on Facebook and Twitter.
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he added. “Thank you!”
While Twitter placed a warning on the tweet, Facebook left it untouched. The Facebook post has received more than 254,000 reactions and 71,000 shares.
Zuckerberg explained his decision to leave the post up as is, saying the platform’s policy around incitement of violence “allows discussion around state use of force.”
“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,” Zuckerberg wrote on Friday.
Other company employees who have publicly ripped the decision include Lauren Tan, an engineer, who said the company’s inaction made her “ashamed to work here.”
“I enjoy the technical parts of my job and working alongside smart/kind people, but this isn’t right. Silence is complicity,” she tweeted.
David Gillis, a part of Facebook’s design team, praised Twitter for taking action on Trump’s post.
“While I understand why we chose to stay squarely within the four corners of our violence and incitement policy, I think it would have been right for us to make a ‘spirit of the policy’ exception that took more context into account,” he said.
Ryan Freitas, the director of product design for the platform’s newsfeed, made his disagreement with Zuckerberg clear.
“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” he tweeted. “I apologize if you were waiting for me to have some sort of external opinion. I focused on organizing 50+ likeminded folks into something that looks like internal change.”
Brandon Dail, a front-end engineer, called Trump’s post “disgusting” and said it should “absolutely be flagged or removed from our platforms.”
Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook’s portal, wrote that “giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy.”
“I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen,” he added.
When reached asked for comment on the employee criticism, a company spokesperson told The Hill that it recognizes “the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community.”
“We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership,” the person continued. “As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”
Dozens of Facebook employees requested time off Monday to support demonstrations against police brutality, The New York Times reported.
The employees reportedly added a message to their emails saying they were out of the office in a show of protest of Facebook’s decision not to intervene over Trump’s post.
Updated at 2:18 p.m.
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