Resignations, virtual strike, anger of civil society: the decision of Mark Zuckerberg not to moderate the polemical messages of Donald Trump last week on his Facebook platform does not really pass.
“I’m quitting Facebook,” said Timothy Aveni, an engineer, in his profile on Tuesday. “I cannot continue to find excuses” for the social network, he said.
Unlike Twitter, the thumbs up platform decided not to intervene against a message from the American president – “The lootings will be immediately greeted by bullets” – about the demonstrations in support of George Floyd which were enamelled with riots. The death of this African-American, asphyxiated by a white police officer in Minneapolis, sparked a wave of revolt in the United States.
“Facebook provides a platform for politicians to radicalize individuals and glorify violence. We watch the United States switch to the same kind of discord fueled by the social networks that have caused the deaths of people in the Philippines, Myanmar and in Sri Lanka, “said Timothy Aveni. Several employees expressed their dissatisfaction with their boss this weekend and participated in an online strike on Monday.
They believe that even if Facebook has decided to let the speech of politicians as free as possible, the words of the tenant of the White House in this case exceed the limits – those of incitement to violence. “I am proud to announce that as of today, I am no longer a Facebook employee,” Owen Anderson, another engineer from the California group, tweeted on Monday.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the platform, answered questions from his employees at a weekly videoconference meeting Tuesday, without changing his mind. On a “personal” basis, the young billionaire condemned the “cleavage and inflammatory rhetoric” of the president in a post on his profile Friday. But he argued that the messages should not be deleted, in the name of freedom of expression and the public’s interest in being informed.
“We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for the decision to maintain Trump’s publications,” said Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robinson, head of three major civil rights organizations in the United States.
Their reaction comes after a telephone conversation Monday evening with Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the number 2 of Facebook. They complained about the refusal to act on various messages sanctioned by Twitter but not by Facebook: that on the violence in Minneapolis, but also those of a week ago on the postal vote.
Twitter had flagged them as misleading, and added “verify the facts”, while Mark Zuckerberg reminded on Fox News that the platforms, according to him, should not play the role of “arbiters of truth on line”.
“He (Mark Zuckerberg) has not shown understanding of the historic and contemporary restriction on the right to vote and he refuses to recognize how Facebook facilitates Trump’s calls for violence against the protesters,” say the three officials. . “Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would express harmful comments in the same vein on Facebook,” they add. “We are grateful that officials from civil rights groups took the time to share their frank and honest comments with Mark and Sheryl,” a Facebook spokesperson responded to the Monday evening phone call. “This is an important time to listen and we look forward to continuing these conversations,” added the spokesperson.