Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staffers last week that he felt “disgust” when President Trump wrote on social media that looting would lead to shooting at nationwide protests related to the death of George Floyd.
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“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote on social media on May 29, in a reference to instances of looting alongside peaceful protests in various cities after Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis. While Trump later clarified that he meant that looting would lead to violent disputes, Twitter added a warning to the post, noting that it violated the platform’s policy against the glorification of violence.
Unlike its social media rival, Facebook left Trump’s post untouched, sparking an outcry among some employees. In an all-hands meeting last Friday, Zuckerberg said he personally disapproved of Trump’s comments but they did not violate Facebook’s existing policies.
“My first reaction ... was just disgust,” Zuckerberg said in audio obtained by The Verge. “This is not how I think we want our leaders to show up during this time. This is a moment that calls for unity and calmness and empathy for people who are struggling.”
Zuckerberg said the decision on how to handle Trump’s post was “personally pretty wrenching” for him. The Facebook founder said he opted not to take action because the public has a right to know if the “government is planning to deploy force.”
Facebook is in the process of re-examining its policy on posts from politicians regarding the use of state force, Zuckerberg added. The review is expected to take several weeks.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Zuckerberg’s remarks.
Hundreds of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout Monday to protest the company’s handling of Trump’s posts, the New York Times reported. A number of Facebook workers have publicly criticized company leadership on social media.
The internal dispute arose days after Zuckerberg told Fox News he disagreed with Twitter’s recent decision to add fact-check labels to multiple Trump tweets.
“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg said. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. In general, private companies probably shouldn’t be – especially these platform companies – shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”