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'Virtual Walkout': Facebook Employees Protest Zuckerberg's Response to Trump's Posts

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Facebook employees made it clear on Monday that they want the social media giant to censor President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of employees staged a “virtual walkout” in protest of how CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to handle statements from the president, according to The New York Times.

The demonstration came in the wake of Zuckerberg’s interview with Fox News last week regarding social media censorship.

“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” he told Fox News’ Dana Perino in the interview, which aired Thursday.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

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In addition to hoping to pressure Facebook executives into taking a tougher stance against Trump’s posts, the employees also have refused to work in order to show support for people across the country who are protesting over the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

The group would like to see Facebook censor or add warning labels to the president’s posts, the same way that Twitter did to a May 28 tweet.

In the tweet, Trump referred to rioters in Minneapolis as “THUGS” and warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter marked the tweets with a warning that reads, “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.”

After commenters said the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” has racially charged origins and was used by segregationists in the ’60s, the president clarified his statement.

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement,” Trump said in a tweet Friday. “It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!”

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Regardless, the Twitter warnings remain on the tweet.

The president posted the same message on Facebook, where it has received no such censoring.

Do you agree with Facebook's approach to President Trump's posts?

According to audio from a Tuesday Q&A video call meeting with thousands of employees that was leaked to Vox Media’s Recode, Zuckerberg explained why he refused to take the post down.

“I knew that the stakes were very high on this, and knew a lot of people would be upset if we made the decision to leave it up,” he said.

“We basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to that the reference is clearly to aggressive policing — maybe excessive policing — but it has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands.”

Following Twitter’s censorship of the president’s tweets and a history of bias against conservatives by Big Tech and social media platforms, Trump signed an executive order on Thursday directing federal regulators to crack down on such bias and, in some cases, remove the legal protections shielding tech companies from liability for what’s posted on their platforms.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet,” the executive order says. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.

“When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.”

“The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow-ban are editorial decisions, pure and simple,” Trump said at the signing.

“In those moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform and they become an editor with a viewpoint, and I think we can say that about others also, whether you’re looking at Google, whether you’re looking at Facebook and perhaps others,” he said.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Birthplace
Ames, Iowa
Nationality
American
Education
Iowa State University
Topics of Expertise
Culture, Faith, Politics, Education, Entertainment




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