Several former influential Facebook employees have written an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, criticizing his inaction over controversial posts from US President Donald Trump on glorifying violence and calling him to start fact-checking world leaders and labeling harmful posts.
In the letter which was first reported by The New York Times, nearly three dozen top ex-staffers some of whom wrote Facebook’s first community guidelines said that the policy of allowing political speech to go largely unchecked was a “betrayal of the ideals Facebook claims,” asking Zuckerberg to reconsider his position.
The letter comes at a time when current Facebook employees have slammed Zuckerberg for not taking action on posts by Trump in the wake of the death of African-American George Floyd. There have been some resignations too at the company over the inaction.
“They have decided that elected officials should be held to a lower standard than those they govern. One set of rules for you, and another for any politician, from your local mayor to the President of the United States. Facebook should be holding politicians to a higher standard than their constituents,” read the open letter.
“Facebook’s leadership interprets freedom of expression to mean that they should do nothing —or very nearly nothing — to interfere in political discourse”.
While Twitter put out a “public interest notice” on Trump tweet for violating the platform’s policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.
Even photo-messaging app Snapchat has decided not to promote US President Donald Trump’s account on its Discover page of curated content. What makes the Snapchat decision significant is that Trump posted or tweeted controversial content on Twitter and Facebook and not Snapchat.
The open letter by former Facebook employees made another point: “We know the speech of the powerful matters most of all. It establishes norms, creates a permission structure, and implicitly authorises violence, all of which is made worse by algorithmic amplification”.
In a virtual town hall with employees this week, Zuckerberg said that Trump post “did not constitute a policy violation”.
Zuckerberg, however, said he will begin to review moderation processes and change the way the company deals with such harmful content.