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Facebook’s Zuckerberg faces employee blowback over ruling on Trump comments

(The Southern African Times) – Facebook employees critical of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to remove an inflammatory comment from U.S. President Donald Trump took their dissent public over the weekend on Twitter, praising the rival social media firm for taking action and rebuking their own employer.

Many tech workers at companies including Facebook, Google and Amazon have become active on social justice issues in recent years and urged their employers take action and change policies. 

Still, the criticism of Zuckerberg marked a rare case of high-level employees publicly taking their own CEO to task, with at least three of the seven critical posts seen by Reuters coming from people who identified themselves as senior managers. 

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” wrote Ryan Freitas, whose Twitter account identifies him as director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed. He added he had mobilized “50+ likeminded folks” to lobby for internal change. 

Jason Toff, identified as director of product management, wrote: “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.” 

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the employee dissent. 

Twitter on Friday hid a tweet from Trump that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” behind a warning label. It explained the tweet violated Twitter’s rules against “glorifying violence” but was being left up as a “public service exception.” 

Facebook declined to take action on the same message, with Zuckerberg saying in a Facebook post on Friday that while he found the remarks “deeply offensive,” the company decided they did not violate its policy against “incitements to violence.” 

Some of the dissenting employees directly praised Twitter’s response. 

“Respect to @Twitter’s integrity team for making the enforcement call,” wrote David Gillis, identified as a director of product design. In a long Twitter thread he said he understood the logic of Facebook’s decision, but said: “I think it would have been right for us to make a ‘spirit of the policy’ exception that took more context into account.”

Toff was one of several Facebook employees who were organizing fundraisers for non-profit groups assisting protesters in Minnesota. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post early Monday that the company would contribute an additional $10 million to social justice causes. 

“Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” wrote another Facebook manager, Andrew Crow, head of design for the Portal product. “I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.” 

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