Facebook employees wanted to remove Trump's looting and shooting tweet

Leaked exchanges from internal posts at Facebook show employees wanted to remove Trump’s ‘looting and shooting’ tweets that were reposted to the site despite CEO Zuckerberg saying they were ‘essential state advice’

  • Facebook employees have been voicing their concern after the site left a couple of controversial Twitter posts by President Trump up on its site 
  • The president posted to both Twitter and Facebook Friday morning, directed at those looting stores amid protests over George Floyd’s death 
  • ‘When looting starts, shooting starts,’ he wrote, after threatening to deploy the National Guard to Minnesota 
  • Twitter quickly hid the president’s post behind a warning claiming it ‘glorified violence’; but Facebook left the post up without any disclaimer 
  • On Friday evening, Mark Zuckerberg explained that Facebook decided not to censor the post as it included information about the National Guard

Some workers at Facebook are unhappy with the social media giant’s decision to not take any action on controversial posts by President Donald Trump, despite having been flagged on Twitter.

Some of the employees are calling on Facebook executives to reconsider the decision to keep up Trump”s controversial posts about mail-in ballots and the Minnesota protests.

‘I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,’ one employee was quoted in an email as reported by The Verge.

‘All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.’   

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on Friday

Within hours, Twitter hid the post behind a warning which accused the tweet of ‘violating rules about glorifying violence’. Facebook, meanwhile, left the post up without any disclaimers  

However, Facebook and Twitter were aligned in criticizing Trump”s executive order on ‘preventing online censorship’ which was issued on Thursday. 

Trump signed the order in a bid to strip social media platforms of some of the legal protections that they currently enjoy as ‘platforms’ rather than ‘publishers’. 

Facebook has promised to ‘restrict more speech online, not less’, while Twitter called the executive order a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. 

Trump’s offensive came after Twitter decided to fact check two of the president’s tweets in the form of a hyperlink that were tagged onto his postings. 

Earlier in the week Donald Trump was officially ‘fact-checked’ by Twitter over ‘misleading’ claiming mail-in ballots will lead to fraud

After the executive order had been issued, Twitter then flagged a fresh tweet from Trump about the violent Minneapolis protests. 

Twitter said that the tweet violated Twitter policies about glorifying violence.

The tweets were also cross-posted to Facebook. 

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, explained the company’s rationale for not taking action on the mail-in ballot post in a lengthy blog post seen internally by the company’s workers. 

‘We reviewed the claim and determined that it doesn’t break our rules against voter interference because it doesn’t mislead people about how they can register to vote or the different ways they can vote,’ Bickert stated in the blog posting. ‘If it had, we should have removed the post from our platform altogether because our voter interference policy applies to everyone, including politicians.’

‘That said, we do not believe that a private technology company like Facebook should be in the business of vetting what politicians say in the context of a political debate. As is the case with the President’s tweets, speech from candidates and elected officials is highly scrutinized and debated. We think people should be allowed to hear what politicians say, make up their own minds and hold politicians to account,’ Bickert wrote.

More than 700 employees ended up responding to the internal Facebook posting and asked why the site did not take action on Trump’s post about Minnesota protests

More than 700 employees ended up responding to the posting and asked why the site did not take action on Trump’s post about Minnesota protests.

Trump stated in the Friday post: ‘I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis… These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you.’

He later added that ‘It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement.’ 

‘Would it be possible to explain in more detail the interpretation of our community standards?’ one employee asked. ‘Does this post violate them but get an exemption, or is it not violating?’ 

On Friday afternoon, it appeared that nobody from the company had responded to the questions from workers.

‘It’s egregious that nobody from policy has chimed in or provided any sort of context here,’ one employee said.

Another worker suggested nobody had responded ‘because Facebook’s community of employees has demonstrated many times that private deliberations will be leaked to the press and taken out of context.’

‘I don’t think employees are asking anything here that the public doesn’t deserve to know,’ a colleague responded.  

‘Makes me sad and frankly ashamed,’ another worker wrote. ‘Hopefully this wasn’t the final assessment? Hopefully there is still someone somewhere discussing how and why this is clearly advocating for violence?’ 

‘It’s been said previously that inciting violence would cause a post to be removed. I too would like to know why the goals shifted, and where they are now,’ chimed another.  

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed why Facebook chose to keep President Trump’s controversial ‘looting leads to shooting’ post up on its site despite Twitter hiding the same update because it ‘glorified violence’

 In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’

On Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed why the social media platform Facebook chose to keep the controversial posts up on its site.

In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’.  

Trump initially shared the post to both Twitter and Facebook shortly before 1am Friday, following a third night of violent protests in Minnesota over the death of black man George Floyd.  

Zuckerberg finally spoke out late Friday evening, stating: ‘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… But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression.’

He continued: ‘I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies. We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies.’

‘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.’

Trump’s comment on the Minneapolis protests (pictured  Thursday night) that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is now hidden by a warning that it violated Twitter’s rules – but the message can be bypassed and the tweet remains live

The Facebook CEO then explained that Trump later shared a follow-up which ‘explicitly discouraged violence’.

That post, shared by the commander-in-chief on Friday afternoon, read: ‘Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.

‘I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means. It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!’

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