Facebook employees staged a protest against owner Mark Zuckerberg over his stance on Donald Trump’s post on the platform which they claim promotes violence.
The employees, who began publicly criticizing the social network on Twitter over the weekend, have escalated their disapproval by staging a virtual walkout and symbolically changing their workplace profile pictures.
The initial internal disapproval has reached a new boiling point because Facebook’s inaction contrasts with rival Twitter’s response to Trump’s posts.
After labeling two of Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots for “potentially misleading information,” Twitter placed another notice over the president’s tweet for violating its rules against glorifying violence. In the tweet, which was also posted by the White House’s account, Trump said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The president made the remarks in response to news about protests that have erupted following the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who died after a white police officer pinned his neck down with his knee. The incident was recorded on video and Floyd says in the footage that he couldn’t breathe, sparking protests across the nation. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Facebook left up Trump’s post after the company determined that the president’s remarks didn’t violate its rules against potentially causing “imminent risk of specific harms or dangers,” a decision that conflicts with Twitter’s interpretation of the remarks. Facebook allows for discussion around the state use of force. The world’s largest social network also doesn’t have a notice like Twitter that allows a politician’s post to stay up even if it violates its rules.
The decision prompted hundreds of Facebook employees to stage a “virtual walkout” on Monday by taking the day off and requesting time off to support protesters. Employees also added an automated message to their emails saying that they were out of the office to show that they disagreed with the company’s position on Trump’s posts, according to a report from The New York Times. Some employees have threatened to resign while others took to Twitter to criticize Facebook’s decision, an unusual public rebuke of their own company.