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Facebook staff plan 'virtual walkout' over response to Trump posts

Employees are angry at Zuckerberg’s decision to leave Trump’s posts up.
Karissa Bell, @karissabe
June 1, 2020
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Zuckerberg, making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, seeks to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to British firm Cambridge Analytica working on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

Facebook employees are so upset with Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take no action on Donald Trump’s posts, that they are participating in a “virtual walkout” in a show of protest against the company, The New York Times reports.

Facebook workers, most of whom are still working from home, are taking the day off and indicating in out of office messages that they are “out of the office in a show of protest,” according to the report. Employees are also working on “a list of demands for management.” 

The walkout comes days after Zuckerberg announced Friday evening that Trump’s posts, which Twitter said broke its rules regarding “glorification of violence,” didn’t violate Facebook’s standards. Zuckerberg said he had a “visceral negative reaction” to Trump’s “inflammatory rhetoric,” but ultimately opted to leave the posts up untouched. Axios later reported that Zuckerberg had spoken to Trump on the phone before announcing the decision.

Zuckerberg announced Sunday night that Facebook would make a $10 million donation to “groups working on racial justice.” But the move doesn’t appear to have affected employees’ decision to walk out on Monday.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “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."

This isn’t the first time Facebook employees have clashed with Zuckerberg over the company’s treatment of Trump. Hundreds of employees signed an open letter last fall  that publicly criticized his decision to allow politicians to lie in advertisements.

But the latest controversy, which comes as Facebook employees have been working from home amid nationwide protests, appears to be escalating into a new territory. At least two “senior” employees have threatened to quit, NYT reports. Many other Facebook employees have publicly tweeted their disagreement.

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