Several Facebook employees took public stand this weekend against Mark Zuckerberg and his decision not to moderate Donald Trump’s words. At the same time, Twitter posted on its platform several messages from the US president.
The battle between Twitter and Donald Trump splashes Facebook. Its boss and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, refuses to sanction controversial comments from the US president. It has been publicly denied by employees, a rare phenomenon in Silicon Valley.
“Mark is wrong, and I will try to make him change his mind by making a lot of noise,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, design director of Facebook’s News Feed, on Sunday. He said he had gathered about fifty people of the same opinion.
Mark is wrong, and I will try in the highest possible way to change his opinion.
– Ryan Freitas (@ryanchris) June 1, 2020
Originally two unmatched Twitter interventions last week. The platform first reported two tweets from the US president on postal voting with the words “check the facts”.
Mark Zuckerberg then reminded Fox News that the platforms, he said, should not play the role of “online truthmen” – an interview retweeted by Donald Trump.
Then, on Friday, Twitter masked another message from the tenant in Maison Blanch, about the clashes in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death, for violating the network’s excuse for violence.
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“The looting is immediately greeted by bullets,” Donald Trump said of the protests escalating to riots.
These comments also appear on Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg decided to leave them visible, “after hesitating all day”.
In a post on his profile, he said he condemned the president’s “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric” as “personal,” but did not intend to delete the messages in the name and public interest of the Freedom of Expression.
“I know many are dissatisfied (…), but our position is to facilitate as much expression as possible, unless there is an imminent risk of harm to others or dangers described in our regulations.” said Mark Zuckerberg.
Sling among employees
Twitter and Facebook have created systems to combat dangerous content (hate speech, harassment, etc.) and against disinformation. But Facebook relieves political people and candidates from the essentials of these actions.
“I don’t know what to do, but I know it’s not acceptable to do nothing. I’m an employee of Facebook who fully agrees with Mark’s decision not to do anything with Trump posts that recently encourage violence,” Jason Stirman , a research and development manager for the company, tweeted on Saturday on Saturday.
“I’m not alone on Facebook. There’s no neutral stance on racism,” he added.
In fact, several other employees spoke on Sunday.
“I think Trump’s tweet (of looting) encourages extraordinary violence and drives racism. Respect for the Twitter team,” writes designer David Gillis. “To do nothing is to dare. That’s what many of us feel,” said developer Nate Butler.
Phone interview between Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump
To make matters worse, the US press on Sunday revealed that Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump met on Friday by phone.
The conversation was “productive,” according to anonymous sources on the special site Axios and the CNBC channel. It has not been confirmed or denied by the parties concerned.
The phone call with the president discredits the idea of a so-called “neutrality,” according to Evelyn Douek, a Harvard Law School researcher. Like other experts, she questions the ability of Facebook’s brand new “Supreme Court” to intervene.
“We are aware that people want the council to address many important issues related to online content,” said the network’s “monitoring board,” which took shape earlier this month. He is supposed to have the last word if he is to maintain controversial content, independently.
The network giant is directly affected by Donald Trump’s counter-attack against Twitter. The president signed a decree that attacked a basic law on the US Internet, section 230, on Thursday, which offers digital platforms immunity from all legal action related to content published by third parties. And gives them the freedom to intervene as they please to police the exchanges.