Facebook CEO defends decision not to censor President Trump, despite backlash from employees
UPDATED 3:05 PM PT — Saturday, June 6, 2020
While social media giants have done everything they can to control the narrative online, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has erred on the side of freedom of expression.
In a letter to his employees, Zuckerberg stated he wants users to see information and decide for themselves how they feel about it, unless it causes “imminent risk or specific dangers.”
“Political speech is one of the most sensitive parts of a democracy, and people should be able to see what politicians say,” he said. “Political speech is the most scrutinized speech already, by a lot of the media.”
This came after some of his employees publicly shamed the CEO for not pulling posts from the president, which they claimed incited violence.
President Trump’s post last week was in response to peaceful protests turning violent. He wrote, “these thugs are dishonoring George Floyd” and added “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
Twitter removed the post and argued it went against their policy. However, they left one up that specifically stated big change does not come without violence. According to critics, this pointed to a major bias in the platform’s use of their rules and guidelines.
This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. https://t.co/sl4wupRfNH
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) May 29, 2020
In May, Zuckerberg warned against this kind of bias censorship.
“I don’t think that Facebook or any other platforms in general should be arbiters of truth,” he said. “I think that’s a dangerous line to get down to, in terms of deciding what is true and what isn’t.”
Moving forward, the CEO said he’s seeking alternatives to the “leave it up or take it down” option, when it comes to information partially violating policies.
He added he will also be working to advance racial justice through product innovation, as well as ramping up the platform’s ‘get out and vote’ campaign.
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