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Zuckerberg Defends Hands-Off Approach to Trump’s Posts

  • June 02, 2020

Mr. Zuckerberg held firm even as the pressure on him to take action on Mr. Trump’s messages intensified. Civil rights groups said late Monday after meeting with him and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, that it was “totally confounding” that the company was not taking a tougher stand on Mr. Trump’s belligerent posts, which have contributed to the rhetoric around the protests over police violence in recent days. And several Facebook employees have publicly resigned, with one saying the company would end up “on the wrong side of history.”

Facebook’s internal dissent began brewing last week after the social network’s rival, Twitter, added labels to Mr. Trump’s tweets that indicated the president was glorifying violence and making inaccurate statements. The same messages from Mr. Trump also appeared on Facebook. But unlike Twitter, Facebook did not touch the president’s posts, including one in which Mr. Trump said of the protests in Minneapolis: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

That led to internal criticism, with Facebook employees arguing it was untenable to leave up Mr. Trump’s messages that incited violence. They said Mr. Zuckerberg was kowtowing to Republicans out of fear of being regulated or broken up.

Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have spent the past five days meeting with employees, civil rights leaders and other angry parties to explain the company’s stance. Mr. Zuckerberg has said Facebook does not want to be an “arbiter of truth.” He has also said that he is for free speech and that what world leaders post online is in the public interest and newsworthy.

But in trying to placate everyone, Mr. Zuckerberg has failed to appease anyone. Employees have continued to revolt, making critical public statements on Twitter, LinkedIn and their personal Facebook pages. And politicians and civil rights organizations have also criticized Mr. Zuckerberg’s position.

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