Facebook Employees Stage Virtual Walkout Against Trump Posts

After Mark Zuckerberg’s comments last week about Facebook’s strategy of taking a less hands-on approach to regulating President Donald Trump’s postings on the platform compared to Twitter, employees are publicly criticizing the company — and staging a walkout in opposition.

Related | Twitter Flags Trump and the White House Threats for Violence

When Trump sent out his first several inflammatory tweets concerning the protests in honor of George Floyd last week, Twitter took swift action to label his speech as violent. While the posts were ultimately kept available for viewing, they were only accessible under a content warning — a limit that set Trump off. The platform’s unwavering stance against Trump’s threats was celebrated by many, but caused conservatives to mumble about sanctions on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from immense liabilities and promotes free speech online.

Instead of taking similar action, or at the very least promising it in the future, against Trump’s incendiary speech on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg instead chose to opt for a stance that allowed the posts to stay up. Although it is true that Facebook should not act as an editorial board for its members posts, should it want to safeguard its Section 230 immunity, many Facebook employees are vehemently against Zuckerberg’s inaction.

The New York Times first reported that several employees were preparing for a virtual walkout today to show that they were ready to resign from their positions over the issue. Petitions were allegedly circulated since the incident calling for the resignations of executives, including Facebook’s vice president of global policy and “close friend” of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Joel Kaplan.

Now, amid radio silence in the form of action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, employees have signed off for the day and activated automated email replies that explained their out-of-office status as an act of protest.

Zuckerberg allegedly plans to meet with employees tomorrow for his usual weekly meeting instead of on Thursday. Reports say that he will hold space for employees to question him then on his viewpoint of limiting Trump’s speech as curatorial and ultimate decision to keep Trump’s posts on the platform.

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Twitter Flags Trump and the White House Threats for Violence

Around 1:00 AM EST on May 29, United States President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize Minneapolis leadership’s response to the current protests taking place in the wake of George Floyd’s death earlier this week. In calling for an end to the looting of businesses, however, Trump not only threatened to send in the National Guard to “get the job done right,” but also directly threatened violence against those participating. Twitter swiftly flagged the tweet, stating that it violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence, but the tweet remains viewable to users.

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“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump’s since-flagged racist tweet reads in a thread of his rantings. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The very immediate threat of violence against protestors was evident to the people watching Trump’s tantrum on social media unfold, and takedown reports sent to Twitter seem to have worked. Although the platform allowed the tweet to remain available for click-through viewing, it attached a message to the original reply and disabled link sharing. The phrase “when the shooting starts, the looting starts” originated when it was first uttered by Miami’s police chief, Walter Headley, in 1967 as a racist threat against citizens in the Civil Rights movement.

Related | A Black EMT Was Shot by Police in Her Home

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the warning message reads attached to Trump’s tweet. His reaction to having his tweet flagged was, expectedly, not happy — he took aim directly at the company this morning and vowed to enforce an executive order signed yesterday to expand social companies’ liability for its users’ postings under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Once Trump realized his tweet was only available for limited viewing to the public, The White House’s official Twitter account reposted the original message — and then also got flagged for violent speech. The account, which now appears to be as much a mouthpiece for Trump’s tirades as his personal account, calls for Twitter to be deemed a publisher and thus sacrifice its Section 230 immunity.

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