Zuckerburg Backlash over Trump Post Continues as Facebook Moderators Say ‘Our Screens Are Being Flooded with Hate Speech’

A bunch of present and former Facebook content material moderators has criticized CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to not take away a controversial submit by President Donald Trump, as stress mounts on the founder to assessment the platform’s insurance policies.

An open letter from the group, uploaded on-line as we speak, expresses solidarity with protesters taking to the streets following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with unintentional second-degree homicide, third-degree homicide and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd’s loss of life sparked world Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest.

On May 29, after in a single day protests in Minneapolis, Trump put out a message on social media that appeared to incite violence with the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Criticism over the choice to not take away or place a warning on Trump’s Facebook submit grew after Twitter flagged the identical phrases for “glorifying violence,” hiding it from public view. Many Facebook staff tweeted complaints. Some resigned from their positions.

The moderators voiced assist for a “virtual walkout” held by Facebook workers final week who disagreed with the selection to not sanction Trump.

“Events prove we cannot passively accept our role of silent algorithm facilitators—not when our screens are being flooded with hate speech,” the moderators wrote. “Not when we are forced to witness the impact of the dog whistles and countless hours of live streamed police brutality, of pain inflicted on black bodies.”

The content material of the open letter was first reported by The Guardian.

Zuckerberg stated throughout a video assembly with workers final week {that a} assessment of the submit discovered it didn’t violate the present insurance policies round incitement of violence.

“We basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to, that that reference is clearly to aggressive policing— maybe excessive policing—but has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands,” the CEO stated, based on a transcript of the video name assembly that was revealed by Recode final Wednesday.

He additionally stated that regardless of his personal “visceral negative reaction” to the president’s rhetoric, Facebook ought to try to allow as a lot expression as potential.

“Facebook can do better,” moderators countered within the letter, which included 4 names that remained nameless because the signers are nonetheless employed on the web site. “We need to express that Mr. Zuckerberg’s words about personal dismay caused by Trump’s ‘looting and shooting’ rhetoric are not enough—especially not when so many of his employees recognize it as a blatant violation of the spirit of the violence and incitement policy; as a call to action no ‘newsworthiness’ is able to justify.”

The moderators stated they’d have taken half within the digital walkout however non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) at present stop them from voicing considerations in public. The open letter asserted that president Trump is properly conscious of his actions.

The group wrote: “The benefit of the doubt this politician is being given as a user, even with such a large platform, is unparalleled—the attempt to retroactively place his words behind the context of other posts, actually has had the effect of putting it on an isolated pedestal. This may be the ultimate exhibit of white exceptionality and further legitimization of state brutality we have witnessed in the last weeks.”

Last week, dozens of Facebook’s “earliest employees” stated Zuckerberg’s choice to not take away Trump’s submit was a “betrayal” of the social networks unique beliefs.

“In an age of live-streamed shootings, Facebook should know the danger of this better than most. Trump’s rhetoric, steeped in the history of American racism, targeted people whom Facebook would not allow to repeat his words back to him,” they stated.

On Saturday, an open letter signed by greater than 200 scientists, many being funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), slammed Facebook executives for letting Trump unfold “misinformation and incendiary statements” with out consequence.

In a submit on his private account final Friday, Zuckerberg stated Facebook would assessment its content material insurance policies concerning “discussion and threats of state use of force.”

He wrote: “There are two specific situations under this policy that we’re going to review. The first is around instances of excessive use of police or state force. Given the sensitive history in the US, this deserves special consideration.

“The second case is round when a rustic has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. We have already got precedents for imposing better restrictions throughout emergencies and when nations are in ongoing states of battle, so there could also be extra insurance policies… round dialogue or threats of state use of pressure when a rustic is on this state.”

Zuckerberg stated he would assessment insurance policies about “violating or partially-violating content” except for the “binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions.” He wrote: “I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week.

“Our present coverage is that if content material is definitely inciting violence, then the suitable mitigation is to take that content material down—not let individuals proceed seeing it behind a flag.

“There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas.

“I fear that this strategy has a danger of main us to editorialize on content material we do not like even when it does not violate our insurance policies, so I feel we have to proceed very rigorously.”

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify earlier than the House Financial Services Committee in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019.

Leave a Comment