- A Facebook employee has publicly resigned over the company’s handling of President Trump’s posts.
- The California engineer accused Facebook of being “on the wrong side of history.”
- Facebook has refused to take action against a post from Trump that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which Twitter said glorified violence.
- The resigning engineer said Facebook was “providing a platform that enables politicians to radicalize individuals and glorify violence.”
- Do you work at Facebook? Contact this reporter at [email protected] or 650-636-6268. Anonymity offered.
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A Facebook software engineer in California has publicly resigned over the company’s handling of posts from President Donald Trump about the US protests, saying Facebook is “on the wrong side of history.”
On Monday, Timothy Aveni announced on Facebook and LinkedIn that he was leaving the company in protest as numerous Facebook employees launched an unprecedented virtual “walkout” protest to challenge leadership.
As protests over police brutality have engulfed the US in recent days, Facebook has faced a wave of internal unrest. It was sparked by the company’s refusal to take action against a post by Trump, which said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” – a phrase used by a Miami police chief during civil-rights unrest in the 1960s.
It was also posted on Twitter, which determined that the tweet was “glorifying violence” and attached a warning label to it – but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it didn’t break Facebook’s rules.
Facebook employees have responded with the company’s largest public protest in its 16-year history, with dozens tweeting their objections to the decision and as many as 400 taking part in a virtual walkout on Monday, according to The Verge. (Most employees are working from home because of the pandemic.)
Aveni cited Facebook’s response to Trump’s post as a reason for his departure. “I cannot stand by Facebook’s continued refusal to act on the president’s bigoted messages aimed at radicalizing the American public,” he wrote in a public LinkedIn post. “I’m scared for my country, and I’m watching my company do nothing to challenge the increasingly dangerous status quo.”
The engineer expanded on his criticism in a post on Facebook, accusing the company of not applying its rules evenly. “For years, President Trump has enjoyed an exception to Facebook’s Community Standards; over and over he posts abhorrent, targeted messages that would get any other Facebook user suspended from the platform. He’s permitted to break the rules, since his political speech is ‘newsworthy,'” he wrote.
“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act on increasingly dangerous rhetoric,” Aveni said. “Since Friday, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand and process the decision not to remove the racist, violent post Trump made Thursday night, but Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponised hatred, is on the wrong side of history.”
He added: “I cannot keep excusing Facebook’s behaviour. Facebook is providing a platform that enables politicians to radicalize individuals and glorify violence, and we are watching the United States succumb to the same kind of social media-fuelled division that has gotten people killed in the Philippines, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. I’m scared for my country and I’m done trying to justify this.”
Liz Bourgeois, a Facebook spokesperson, declined to comment on Aveni’s resignation and reshared a statement about the employees protests: “We recognise the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”
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