Jun 2, 2020 - Technology

Civil rights leaders blast Facebook after meeting with Zuckerberg

Screenshot of an image some Facebook employees are adding to their internal profiles, with or without the hashtag, to protest company policy.
Screenshot of an image some Facebook employees used as part of their virtual walkout on Monday.

A trio of civil rights leaders issued a blistering statement Monday following a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives to discuss the social network's decision to leave up comments from President Trump they say amount to calls for violence and voter suppression.

Why it matters: While Twitter has flagged two of the president's Tweets, one for being potentially misleading about mail-in ballot procedures and another for glorifying violence, Facebook has left those and other posts up, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he doesn't want to be the "arbiter of truth."

The meeting, held via video call on Monday night, followed a day in which employees at Facebook staged a virtual walkout, with many criticizing the company on internal message boards and a significant number doing so publicly on Twitter.

What they're saying: In a joint statement, the heads of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change said they were "disappointed and stunned by Mark's incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up."

"He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump's call for violence against protesters. Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”
— Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robinson, in a joint statement

Facebook, for its part, said it was "grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback" and said "it is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations."

In addition to Zuckerberg, also on the call for Facebook were COO Sheryl Sandberg, policy chief Nick Clegg, along with DC policy executive Joel Kaplan and external affairs director Lindsay Elin.

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