Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout on Monday in protest of the company’s decision not to take action against incendiary posts by President Donald Trump last week, according to The New York Times.
The virtual walkout comes on the heels of a decision from Facebook not to take any action against a series of controversial posts from Trump last week, including one that seemed to threaten violence against protestors by saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter determined that the same message violated its rules against the glorification of violence last week, limiting the ability to view, like, reply, and retweet the post on its platform.
According to the Times, employees took the day off to support protests across the country and are leaving behind automated email messages telling senders that they’re out of the office in protest of the company’s inaction.
Over the last year, Zuckerberg has opposed fact-checking politicians. He has said that users should be able to view these posts and decide what to believe on their own.
Zuckerberg’s decision to platform Trump’s inflammatory posts faced heavy internal opposition from employees last week. On Friday, Zuckerberg authored a blog post addressing the employees’ concerns, even though Facebook ultimately “decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be,” he continued.
In leaked internal messages to The Verge, Facebook employees criticized the company’s neutral position.
“I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,” one employee wrote. “All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.”
“Makes me sad and frankly ashamed,” another employee wrote. “Hopefully this wasn’t the final assessment? Hopefully there is still someone somewhere discussing how and why this is clearly advocating for violence?”
As more employees went public criticizing Zuckerberg and Facebook’s decision on Monday, the company told CNN: “We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.