December 5, 2023

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg says the social network is reviewing its policies amid criticism


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership is being challenged by his own employees.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees that the social network is reviewing its policies including rules that allowed President Donald Trump to post remarks that critics say could incite violence.

In a note to employees that Zuckerberg shared publicly on Friday, he outlines seven areas that the company is examining following criticism about its hands-off approach to Trump’s controversial posts. This week, employees staged a rare virtual walkout to protest the company’s decision and voiced their disapproval publicly. 

“I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them,” Zuckerberg said in the post. He added that the ideas were just a “starting point.”

Zuckerberg faced criticism from his own employees after the social network left up Trump’s post in which the president said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump 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. Facebook has rules against inciting violence, but allows for discussion around the state use of force. Since Trump also reference the National Guard in his post, Facebook saw it as a warning about the use of state force and didn’t pull it down.

Twitter, on the other hand, said the same remarks made in a tweet violated its rules against glorifying violence. The company hid Trump’s remarks behind a public interest notice. 

Zuckerberg said that the company will review policies that allow for the discussion about the use of state force. It will look at instances of excessive use of police or state force and cases when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. The company is also looking at rules around voter suppression because of the coronavirus pandemic and alternatives to just leaving up or pulling down content. The company doesn’t have a public interest notice like Twitter.

“In general, I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies, so I think we need to proceed very carefully,” he said.

Facebook will also work to establish clearer and transparency decision making and if it needs to make any internal changes. The social network is also working on products to advance racial justice and building a hub for voter information.

“To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter,” Zuckerberg said in the post.

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