Facebook employees walk out after accusing Zuckerberg of 'inadequate policing'

WION Web Team California, United States Jun 02, 2020, 07.44 AM(IST)

Mark Zuckerberg Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The move of the employees, critical of Zuckerberg's decision to leave Trump's most inflammatory verbiage unchallenged where Twitter had labeled it, is reminiscent of a 2018 walkout at Alphabet Inc's Google over sexual harassment.

Facebook employees walked away from their work-from-home desks on Monday and took to Twitter to accuse Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg of inadequately policing US President Donald Trump's posts as strictly as the rival platform has done.

The move of the employees, critical of Zuckerberg's decision to leave Trump's most inflammatory verbiage unchallenged where Twitter had labeled it, is reminiscent of a 2018 walkout at Alphabet Inc's Google over sexual harassment.

As protests and rioting over the death in police custody of Floyd spread through several American cities this weekend, Zuckerberg was forced to defend Facebook’s position as, in his words, ''an institution committed to free expression.''

Also read: Facebook will not be 'arbiters of truth', says Zuckerberg after Trump threat

Ryan Freitas, who leads Facebook’s News Feed design team, tweeted: 

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Jason Toff, who joined Facebook as a director of product management a year ago, pointed to a broader upsurge of employee activism inside the company.

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Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook’s Portal video-conferencing device, tweeted:

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Jason Stirman, a member of the company’s R&D team and the former chief executive of the “mental training” app Lucid, also posted on Twitter, saying:

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Some appealed to the company’s oversight board, a quasi-independent body that Facebook has funded to act as a ''supreme court'' capable of ruling on difficult questions around content moderation.

But on Saturday, the board said it would not be able to intervene in time, but was ''working hard to set the board up to begin operating later this year.'

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It was a rare case of staff publicly taking their CEO to task, with one employee tweeting that thousands participated. Among them were all seven engineers on the team maintaining the React code library which supports Facebook's apps.

Facebook Inc will allow employees participating in the protest to take the time off without drawing down their vacation days, spokesman Andy Stone said.

Also read: Fact-checking doesn't make Twitter 'arbiter of truth': Jack Dorsey's retort to Donald Trump

Separately, online therapy company Talkspace said it ended partnership discussions with Facebook. Talkspace CEO Oren Frank tweeted he would "not support a platform that incites violence, racism, and lies.''

Executives and companies across the tech industry, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Netflix, as well as Salesforce, Slack, Uber and Twitter, expressed their support for anti-racism and criminal justice campaigns, through messages to employees, on their homepages or through official social media accounts.

Tech workers at companies including Facebook, Google, and Amazon.com Inc have pursued social justice issues in recent years, urging the companies to change policies.