An employee at Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic initiative reportedly demanded that he resign as its leader or from Facebook if he didn’t moderate inflammatory Trump posts

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, arrives to meet France’s President Emmanuel Macron after the ‘Tech for Good’ Summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Francois Mori/AP
  • An employee at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative demanded that Mark Zuckerberg resign from either it or Facebook if he didn’t take a tougher stance on moderating hate speech, Recode reported Friday.
  • During a town hall, the employee called Zuckerberg out over his refusal to act on controversial Trump posts about recent protests, saying the decision valued “calls to murder people for demonstrating over the political speech of the demonstrators themselves,” according to Recode.
  • Zuckerberg called the idea that he would resign “ridiculous” and implied that employees should quit instead if they disagreed with his values, Recode reported.
  • Employees both within CZI and at Facebook have grown increasingly vocal in recent weeks over Zuckerberg’s stance on racism and hate speech, and the company is now facing a major boycott from advertisers over the issues.
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At a town hall last week, an employee of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative demanded that Mark Zuckerberg resign, either as its leader or as CEO of Facebook, if he didn’t get tougher on moderating hate speech on the social network, Recode reported Friday.

“I mean, no. None of those things would make sense,” Zuckerberg replied, according to Recode, adding: “Quite frankly, the idea that we would resign from CZI is ridiculous.”

CZI, a philanthropy led and funded by Priscilla Chan and her husband Zuckerberg, is legally separate from Facebook. However, according to Recode, Zuckerberg told employees to “make whatever decisions you think are right” with regards to working somewhere where they disagree with leadership’s decisions.

The CZI employee’s ultimatum came following controversial social media posts by President Donald Trump earlier this month in response to protests over George Floyd’s death in the hands of police custody, which Twitter had taken action against while Facebook refused to, causing a revolt among its employees.

“Our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg told Facebook employees at the time in his defence of the company’s inaction.

At CZI’s town hall last week, Recode reported that the employee told Zuckerberg: “It only reflects reality to say that our leader’s idea of free speech values calls to murder people for demonstrating over the political speech of the demonstrators themselves.”

CZI’s affiliation with Facebook – through Zuckerberg – has caused problems for its work and employees there who feel Facebook’s reputation is undermining its mission.

According to Recode, CZI pulled the plug on a voter data project and Colour of Change, a racial justice organisation, turned down CZI money due to Facebook’s reputation. In 2018, New York Magazine’s the Intelligencer reported that students and parents in Brooklyn protested the group’s education initiative over concerns about Facebook’s track record on data privacy.

Zuckerberg has also been under pressure from his employees to do more to directly address systemic racism. More than 70 CZI employees signed a letter last week demanding major changes at the organisation, and at least one Facebook employee resigned over the company’s stance on Trump’s posts.

The chorus of critics outside Facebook is also growing. Civil rights groups including the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League called last week for advertisers to boycott the platforms, and several major brands including Unilever, Verizon, Ben & Jerry’s, The North Face, Patagonia, REI, and Eddie Bauer have already said they will temporarily pull ads from the platform.

CZI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.