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Zuckerberg says Facebook to review policies over use of force, voter suppression amid criticism

Zuckerberg says Facebook to review policies over use of force, voter suppression amid criticism
© Greg Nash

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs MORE said the social media platform will review its policies regarding discussions on police use of force and voter suppression amid criticism over the company’s response to recent protests against the killing of George Floyd.

Zuckerberg said in a memo to employees that he also put on his personal page that he’s “committed to making sure we … fight for voter engagement and racial justice” and said the company would undertake “concrete steps” to adjust its policies.

The Facebook chief said he would review policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force in instances of “excessive use of police or state force [and] when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts.”

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“We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state,” Zuckerberg wrote in the memo.

The memo comes after dozens of former Facebook employees wrote to Zuckerberg panning him for allowing controversial posts from President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE to stay up, specifically claiming that posts saying "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" is a "betrayal" of the social media platform's ideals. 

Those remarks faced widespread criticism for escalating protests across the country, some of which had already devolved into rioting and looting. The protests were sparked after Floyd, an unarmed black man, died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

"[Facebook] claims that providing warnings about a politician’s speech is inappropriate, but removing content from citizens is acceptable, even if both are saying the same thing," the employees wrote. "That is not a noble stand for freedom. It is incoherent, and worse, it is cowardly. Facebook should be holding politicians to a higher standard than their constituents." 

Zuckerberg had rebutted the criticism, saying Facebook is not an "arbiter of truth."

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However, he noted that “the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt,” and that he is grateful for their input.

“We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible,” Zuckerberg wrote. “These ideas are a starting point and I'm sure we'll find more to do as we continue on this journey.”

Facebook will also review its policies on voter suppression to ensure people can accurately discuss the issue during the time of the coronavirus pandemic and bat away misinformation.

“We've played a role in protecting many elections and now have some of the most advanced systems in the world. But there's a good chance that there will be unprecedented fear and confusion around going to the polls in November, and some will likely try to capitalize on that confusion,” Zuckerberg said.