Facebook's Zuckerberg says company is reviewing policies amid criticism

Some of the social network's toughest critics have been its own employees.

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Queenie Wong
2 min read

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

James Martin/CNET

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

In a note to employees that Zuckerberg shared publicly in a Facebook post Friday, he outlined seven areas the company is examining following criticism about its hands-off approach to Trump's controversial post. This week, employees staged a rare virtual walkout to protest the company's approach 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 his post. He added that the ideas were just a "starting point."

Zuckerberg faced criticism from his own employees after the social network left up a Trump post in which the president said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Trump made the remark 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 used a knee to pin him down at the neck. Facebook has rules against inciting violence but allows for discussion around the state use of force. Since Trump also referenced 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 remark, in one of Trump's tweets, violated its rules against glorifying violence. The company veiled that Trump tweet behind an advisory notice, but in the name of public interest it allowed people to click a View button in the notice to read the tweet. 

Zuckerberg said Facebook will review policies that allow for discussions about the use of state force. It'll 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 does.

"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," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook will also work to establish clearer and more transparent decision making and look at whether it needs to make any internal changes. In addition, Zuckerberg said, the social network is working on products to advance racial justice and building a hub for voter information.

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