Dozens of employees at Facebook refused to work on Monday in protest of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to censor posts by President Trump. Employees have circulated petitions, threatened to quit, and publicly criticized the company, all because of the company’s decision to…allow freedom of expression and not discriminate against people based on their political views.
The offending post by President Trump is as follows:
“The hateful rhetoric advocating violence against black demonstrators by the US President does not warrant defense under the guise of freedom of expression,” wrote one employee on an internal message board. “Along with Black employees in the company, and all persons with a moral conscience, I am calling for Mark to immediately take down the President’s post advocating violence, murder and imminent threat against Black people.”
Twitter added a warning label to the equivalent Trump tweet and a fact-check label to a different Trump tweet, but Facebook opted to leave the post alone, stating that it does not violate Facebook’s rules prohibiting incitement of violence.
In my opinion, Zuckerberg was completely correct not to censor the post, because it does not incite or advocate violence. It simply states that if protests become violent, and people loot businesses, law enforcement will respond with lethal force. In other words, Trump is not advocating for initiating violence against anyone; he is advocating responding in kind to those who initiate violence. What is wrong with that? Does advocating enforcement of very reasonable laws protecting private property now constitute a threat of violence? Is the president required to allow people to engage in rioting and looting without doing anything about it? As for the employee who posted on the message board, how can Trump’s post be interpreted as “advocating violence, murder and imminent threat against Black people” if it does not even mention race?
Venture capitalist Roger McNamee criticized Facebook, saying: “In the U.S., Facebook has consistently ignored or altered its terms of service to the benefit of Trump. Until last week, Twitter did the same thing.”
According to the New York Times article, Zuckerberg is planning to hold a call with civil rights leaders who have criticized “Facebook’s protection of Mr. Trump’s posts.”
But there has been no protection of Trump’s posts. Facebook has not ignored or altered its terms of service to the benefit of Trump. It has simply enforced its terms of service consistently, treating Trump the same as it treats everyone else. Twitter, on the other hand, went out of its way to censor Trump, and the employees staging the walkout are demanding that Facebook do the same. They are demanding that their company take down posts that do not violate its rules, merely because they dislike the individual who made the posts and disagree with his political views. In other words, they are demanding that Facebook discriminate against Trump and treat his posts more harshly than the posts of someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum would be treated.
Now that is something that any person with a moral conscience should be against.