Amid mounting criticism from inside and outside Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is reconsidering his refusal to rein in President Trump.
“We’re going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt,” Facebook’s cofounder-CEO writes in a new letter to employees.
Zuckerberg appears to be referring to Trump’s recent threat to have people shot for looting and vandalizing businesses, amid the civil-rights protests sweeping the country. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he told his followers on Facebook and other social platforms.
Initially, Zuckerberg responded to Trump’s threat by reiterating Facebook’s commitment to free expression.
“I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity, but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,” Zuckerberg at the time. “I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately, accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”
Since then, however, the civil-rights movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd has gained steam, while a growing number of Facebook employees have called out the company’s refusal to impose its standard content policies on Trump.
Last Monday, hundreds of Facebook employees even staged a “virtual walkout” for giving Trump a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation.
Zuckerberg has also committed to reviewing Facebook’s policies around voter suppression.
Among other related questions, he is wondering: “As politicians debate what the vote-by-mail policies should be in different states, what should be the line between a legitimate debate about the voting policies and attempts to confuse or suppress individuals about how, when or where to vote?”
Putting even more pressure on Zuckerberg, Twitter and Snap recently began imposing limits on Trump’s content. Twitter started attaching warning labels to several of Trump’s tweets, including those that promoted violence, while Snap decided to stop promoting his account on the Discover section of its flagship app.
Twitter also took Trump to task for spreading misinformation about mail-in ballots.
At the time, Trump tweeted: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
In response to Twitter adding warning labels to his tweets, Trump recently signed an executive order designed to regulate speech on social platforms.
The Trump campaign has also ratcheted up its attacks on industry leaders.
“Radical Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel would rather promote extreme left riot videos and encourage their users to destroy America than share the positive words of unity, justice, and law and order from our President,” Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a recent statement.
Zuckerberg is also vowing to build products specifically designed to “advance racial justice.”
Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s flagship app, will oversee this effort, with the help of Ime Archibong, head of Facebook’s new product experimentation division.
In addition, Facebook is now building a voter hub “to double down on our previous get-out-the-vote efforts. At the end of the day, voting is the best way to hold our leaders accountable and address many of these long-term questions about justice,” Zuckerberg added.