employees appear to have reached a breaking point when it comes to Mark Zuckerberg’s inaction on Donald Trump’s inflammatory posts. Now they’re staging a walk out.
On Monday, a group of Facebook employees organized and formally requested the day off as a form of protest. According to the , the employees created an out-of-office automated email message to make it clear they were taking a stand against Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to Trump’s recent posts.
Facebook employees also shared their criticism of the company openly on social media.
Mass demonstrations and civil unrest has spread across the country over the past week in protest of the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis. On Friday, Trump posted a message across his social media profiles threatening those protesters with violence.
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.
— Jason Toff (@jasontoff) June 1, 2020
Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture *is* wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy. I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.
— Andrew (@AndrewCrow) June 1, 2020
As Facebook employees are almost all working from home due to the current pandemic, the walkout is effectively a virtual protest rather than a traditional office walk out.
The Times notes that this was just one action from a specific group with others taking a different course to let the company know their displeasure. Some employees are currently drafting a list of demands directed towards Facebook executives, while others have voiced their dissatisfaction with the company’s response. Facebook employees, both past and present, as well as those who spoke with the Times, classified the current situation at the company as the “most serious challenge to Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership” in the Facebook’s history.
“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post last week explaining why it hadn’t taken action on Trump’s post.
Trump’s controversial message in question was posted to both his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way,” wrote Trump in a post which referred to the protesters as “thugs.”
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” continued Trump.
Twitter Trump’s post as glorifying violence, which is against the platform’s policies. While it didn’t completely remove the post from its service, it put a label on it forcing users to click a prompt to view the tweet.
Trump immediately criticized Twitter for its decision to warn users about the tweet. The move Trump to threaten to “close” social media platforms. With Twitter firmly engaged in a policy war with the President of the United States over his tweets, attention quickly turned to Facebook’s response.
“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” wrote Zuckerberg.
Clearly, Facebook’s response did not please many of its employees.
The social media giant’s political problems have been simmering for some time now. Facebook infamously new rules last year which essentially allowed free rein for politicians to lie about most issues on its social media platforms while everyone else gets fact-checked. Employees have also on the company’s decision.
Facebook has been in the past for its lack of workplace diversity and has been accused specifically by a former employee of “failing its Black employees and its Black users.”
Public criticism and a mass request for time off may not seem like the most extreme measure, but for Facebook employees, it’s a start. As Trump continues to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable for an elected official, the company’s decisions could create even more discontent within its ranks.
Facebook executives should very well heed this warning.