This weekend has been filled with great news, such as the first manned space trip launched from US soil in nearly a decade and the mission’s subsequent successful coupling to the International Space Station.
However, while these great feats were taking place in space, a controversial war was raging in the digital world. The clashes between Trump and Twitter have become more noticeable since last Tuesday and, meanwhile, Facebook has done its best to stay away from the fire .
Because of this, several of the company’s employees have raised their voices against Facebook’s lack of stock. Now Mark Zuckerberg faces not only external criticism for his policies, but also internal recriminations for them.
The controversial post
On Thursday of last week, Donald Trump posted a comment on Twitter that he considered himself a “glorifier of violence.” Therefore, according to the policies activated by the company in June 2019 , this was hidden after a warning while it was allowed to remain on the page in the “public interest”.
It is known that the company has declared that it will not verify the statements made by politicians – a detail that Twitter has done and that has put it in the middle of a whole controversy that could mean big changes for all social media platforms .
However, we also know that Facebook’s policies regarding hate messages and assault do not speak of exceptions. Or, at least, that’s what Zuckerberg has stated in one of the most recent posts on his official account. Specifically, in his comment he said that:
“Unlike Twitter, we have no controversy to place a warning in front of posts that incite violence because we believe that if one does, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician.”
Facebook in the crosshairs
Interestingly, these were not the same statements made three years ago when the company created new exceptions to its policies. In a 2016 statement shared by the company’s blog, Facebook stated the following:
“In the coming weeks, we are going to start allowing more articles that people find of journalistic interest, significant, or important to the public interest, – even if they might otherwise violate our standards.”
Here you can see the willingness of the company for years to stop regulating many types of content in favor of “freedom of expression”. However, many of these laxer regulations are not yet directly related to restrictions on hate messages or inciting violence.
The voices that want to be heard
Facebook employees are aware of the difficulty of this situation and have aligned themselves with the #Blacklivesmatter movement to support communities protesting the cause and criticize the support that platforms like Facebook give to messages like those sent by Donald Trump. .
From their Twitter accounts, several Facebook employees have expressed their discontent. For example, the head of design for the Facebook portal commented:
“Making a platform incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless of who you are or if it is news. I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen. ”
In addition to his statements, the head of development of the Lucid app, Facebook, Jason Stirman, stated:
“I don’t know what to do, but I know [this] is not acceptable. I’m a Facebook employee who totally disagrees with Mark’s decision not to do anything about the recent Trump posts, which clearly incite violence. I am not alone within Facebook. There is no neutral position on racism. “
Product Management Director Jason Toff also had something to say regarding the recent events:
“I work at Facebbok and I am not proud of the way we are showing ourselves. Most of the colleagues I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voices heard. ”
Likewise, the computer engineer, Brandon Dail, who works in the Facebook frontend, also disagreed:
“Disappointed because, once again, I need to say this: The glorification of Trump’s violence on Facebook is disgusting and should be marked or absolutely removed from our platforms. I totally disagree with any policy that does the opposite. ”
Product designer Sara Zhang showed her support for Brandon Dail’s tweet by retweeting and commenting:
“Internally we are voicing our concerns, so far to no avail. I will personally continue to bring it up until something has changed. ”
Suggesting that the battle is not being waged on social media alone, but Facebook workers are also voicing their concerns within the company to truly try to make noticeable changes. At the moment, much has been unsuccessful, but it does not seem that they are going to stop for this.
Where does all this come from?
The unfortunate events of last week in which George Floyd, a colored man who was the victim of abuse of power by the American police, died after being unjustly detained and attacked by officials of the latter, have been the origin of everything.
The injustice of the situation and the impunity that the four policemen who participated in this act are enjoying have sparked protests in various cities in the United States. Unfortunately, some of these have turned violent or looted.
This has led the authorities to rely on them to apply excessive force in the rest of the peaceful protests. To complement, Trump’s hidden tweet referred to this situation and commented that “when the looting begins, the shooting begins.”
A matter of interpretation
All the controversy that has been triggered has to do with the way in which Facebook and Twitter have interpreted the same phrase. On the one hand, Twitter has determined that this is an incitement to violence, so it must be regulated.
From the other side of the spectrum, Facebook has decided to consider it as a warning and to the protesters to “evade the violence” that could be triggered by their actions. Clearly, both platforms are observing the situation from two very different crystals.
One is gaining government follow-up and retaliation , while the other seems to be fighting to regain lost confidence years ago. Which position is truly in line with the public interest? Will it be another matter of interpretation? Maybe not.