A debate among Facebook employees regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement’s role in society grew so heated that CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened, according to a report Wednesday.
The debate arose after a Facebook employee shared a post last Friday entitled “In Support of Law Enforcement and Black Lives” on the company’s internal messaging platform after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., the Daily Beast reported. In the post, the staffer reportedly expressed support for police officers and downplayed the role of systemic racism in police-involved shootings, arguing that critics of law enforcement leave out the behavior of victims during violent incidents.
“My heart goes out to the Blake family,” the staffer wrote on Friday. “It also goes out to the well-intentioned law enforcement officers who have been victimized by society’s conformity to a lie.”
A number of Facebook employees expressed outrage over the post and left critical comments. The post’s author later said that he deleted some of the remarks and said it was “not my intent” to be offensive.
Zuckerberg addressed the heated dispute in a follow-up post Monday, noting that he disapproved of the way some Facebook employees were using the internal messaging platform.
“We designed our respectful communications policy to allow people to discuss very different viewpoints,” Zuckerberg said. “But I’m concerned that some people are doing that without appreciating the impact their words are having on our Black community.”
The Facebook CEO added that the company would add new rules to its platform to discourage employees of posting potentially offensive viewpoints on open channels.
“As you know, we deeply value expression and open discussion, but I don’t believe people working here should have to be confronted with divisive conversations while they’re trying to work,” Zuckerberg said, according to the Daily Beast.
Facebook declined to comment on the situation.
The incident surfaced as Facebook faces widespread scrutiny over its handling of social justice issues. Dozens of companies boycotted Facebook’s ad platform earlier this summer amid criticism that the company hasn’t done enough to address racism and hate speech on their platforms.
In late August, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook had made an “operational mistake” by failing to quickly remove a page from a militia group that issued a “call to arms” in Kenosha after protests erupted over the Blake shooting.