Civil rights leaders slam Zuckerberg over response to Trump posts, says report

Unlike Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has refused to remove or hide a tweet from the US president that says "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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A group of civil rights leaders issued a scathing statement about Facebook on Monday in the wake of a meeting with the social networking company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives, according to a report by Axios. The meeting was set-up to discuss Facebook's decision to leave up a post by US President Donald Trump that the civil rights leaders say incites violence. 

"He [Zuckerberg] 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," the heads of the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change said in a joint statement. "Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook."

The meeting, which was held on Monday night over video call, came after Facebook employees staged a rare protest in the form of a virtual walkout to express their anger against Zuckerberg's response to Trump. It also followed Twitter's move to hide the same post by Trump behind a warning that says the tweet violated the site's rules against "glorifying violence." 

"We're grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback with Mark and Sheryl [Sandberg]," a Facebook company spokesperson said on Tuesday in an emailed statement to CNET. "It is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations."

Last Thursday, Trump said in social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" after protestors torched a building in Minnesota in anger over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. The phrase was once used by segregationist Georgia Gov. George Wallace, and is widely seen as an approval of police violence against protesters. 

In response, Zuckerberg published a Facebook post on Friday defending the company's response. It said the company's position is to "enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies." Zuckerberg's post went on to say that, unlike Twitter, Facebook doesn't have a policy of adding a warning in front of posts that may incite violence. 

"We believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician."