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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts
Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock
- Twitter put a warning message over a Tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday which it said “glorifies violence.”
- In that tweet, Trump criticized the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, warning that“when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
- The move escalated tensions between Trump and Twitter. Last week the feud prompted Trump to issue an executive order aimed at restricting social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
- Employees at Facebook, which did not issue any sort of warning for the exact same post, are furious at CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing that post to remain.
Facebook Employees Angry
Twitter angered President Donald Trump last week after issuing warnings on several of his tweets, and now, Facebook employees are now targeting their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for not doing the same.
Twitter’s issued a fact-check warning on Trump’s May 26 tweets, which falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.
Then, Thursday night, the company followed up by hiding a different tweet from the president that it said “glorifies violence.”
Notably, these are the first instances where Twitter has corrected or censored Trump, something many have called on them to do for years.
Facebook, however, has stuck to its policy to not censor the president’s speech, even if it could be interpreted as violence.
“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”
“But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,” he added.
“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”
Zuckerberg’s post was yet another defense of his long-held stance regarding the platform’s responsibility to censor violent speech and misinformation from politicians.
Still, Zuckerberg’s unwavering stance has resulted in a number of Facebook employees publicly disagreeing with their boss.
“Inaction is not the answer,” employee Diego Mendes said on Sunday. “Facebook leadership is wrong.”
Other employees continued to take to Twitter to express their opposition to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, one saying, “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”
Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in further protest of Zuckerberg’s “inaction.” Many also took to Twitter with #TakeAction.
During the virtual protest, The New York Times reported that two senior employees threatened to resign if Zuckerberg does not change course on Facebook’s policy.
“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Monday. “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.”
Zuckerberg will meet with his staff Tuesday to discuss disputes over those posts, moving his weekly meeting up from Thursday in response to the walkout.
Twitter Flags Trump Tweet
Trump’s tweet Thursday was critical of the protests that became violence following the death of George Floyd.
In the first of two tweets, Trump says he can’t stand by and watch the situation in Minneapolis. He goes on to jab Mayor Jacob Frey for being a “weak radical left mayor.”
But that tweet was never flagged. It was actually Trump’s second tweet that Twitter targeted because, in it, Trump said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter wrote above the tweet, which is hidden and must be clicked into while on the site. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
While Twitter did not delete the tweet, it has disabled all likes and replies on the post. Currently, the only way to directly share the tweet is to retweet it with a comment.
Early Friday morning, Twitter followed up with another statement, where it explained that the tweet violated “policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”
As many online have also noted, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” carries with it a deeply dividing history.
It’s first known use was in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. According to historians, that phrase was even considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s.
White House Quotes Censored Trump Tweet
In opposition to Twitter’s decision, Friday morning, the White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s censored tweet. That tweet then got hit with the same warning.
The White House later posted another tweet defending the president, saying he didn’t glorify violence.
“He clearly condemned it,” the account said. “@Jack [Dorsey] and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”
In addition to the White House, Trump continued his battle against Twitter Friday morning in a series of tweets that accused the site of having an anti-conservative bias.
“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump also said in defense of his original comment. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”
“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!”
Trump’s Executive Order
Prior to posting this original comment on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aiming to restrict social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
Following this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to continue issuing fact-checks and even warnings against Trump if he’s found in violation of Twitter’s policies.
On Friday, prompted by journalists, Google released a statement saying that undermining the statute that affords platforms their freedoms to moderate their content would “hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.”
Still, both Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Matt Gaetz have promised to introduce legislation that would roll back this statue. For his part, Trump has been very receptive of that idea.
However, there have been a number of reports that any restriction could face major hurdles with the Federal Communications Commission as well as in court over whether such a move would impinge on speech freedoms.
Taiwanese President Pledges Support for Hong Kong After China Proposes National Security Law
- On Thursday, the Chinese government announced that it was proposing a new national security law aimed at Hong Kong.
- The law is meant to criminalize any attempts at secession, subversion, or terrorism against mainland China in the autonomous city-state.
- Though protests had already been scheduled to oppose different measures being proposed in Hong Kong, they quickly shifted on Sunday to include opposition to the likely-to-be-passed national security law.
- Also on Sunday, Twainese President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan “stands with the people of Hong Kong.”
China Proposes National Security Law
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post on late Sunday that she “stands with the people of Hong Kong” as mainland China prepares to implement a sweeping new national security law that pro-democracy advocates argue could strip Hong Kong of its autonomy.
The law, proposed by the Chinese government on Thursday, is a direct response to the massive protests that have rocked Hong Kong since last year following a proposed extradition bill that would have made it easier for the mainland to target Hong Kongers critical of the Chinese government.
Hong Kong enjoys many freedoms that the mainland lacks. That is because, for more than 150 years, Hong Kong was a British colony. Then, in 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to mainland China; however, under a unique agreement called Basic Law, Hong Kong was allowed to retain its freedoms of assembly and speech, with that agreement set to last 50 years.
The proposed national security law is not the first time China has actively tried to exert more power over Hong Kong over the years, but it is the mainland’s most blatant attempt yet to crackdown on protests.
Notably, it would criminalize a number of acts in Hong Kong, including:
- Secession, or the right to declare independence from the mainland;
- Subversion, or undermining the power or authority of the mainland;
- Any activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong.
The law would also allow mainland China to implement its own law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong to “fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security.”
Large Scale Protests Ramp Up for the First Time Since Lockdown
A large scale protest was originally scheduled to be held on Sunday to oppose a bill in Hong Kong’s legislature that would criminalize disrespecting the Chinese national anthem. After China’s announcement of this new bill, the focus shifted.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters ignored social distancing orders as they marched through the streets. This was the first instance of a large scale protest since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
While most of the protest was peaceful, in a scene now not uncommon for Hong Kong, several clashes between protesters and police occurred.
Police threw tear gas to disperse demonstrators, reportedly because the demonstrators had set up roadblocks and thrown objects at officers. Along with tear gas, police also fired other familiar projectiles at protesters, including a water cannon and rubber bullets.
By the end of the protest, more than 180 people were arrested, four officers were injured, and six other people were hospitalized—including one woman in critical condition.
Alongside that protest, on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued to defend the proposed national security law, saying that it’s aimed only at a: “very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardise national security.”
He added that the law would have “no impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.”
“Instead of becoming unnecessarily worried, people should have more confidence in Hong Kong’s future,” he said.
Still, his comments have failed to assuage or persuade pro-democracy advocates. According to The Washington Post, this law could lead to secret police, surveillance, arbitrary detentions, and even propaganda in classrooms.
International Response to the Proposed Law
One of the big questions that remains is to what degree the United States might intervene—especially since the law would criminalize foreign forces interfering with Hong Kong.
So far, the U.S. hasn’t promised any specific action, but on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called security law a “death knell” and said he strongly urged Beijing to reconsider the “disastrous proposal.”
Late Sunday night, Taiwanese President Tsai said that if the law is implemented, then Hong Kong’s core values of freedom and judicial independence will be severely eroded.
Still, it likely will be implemented as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that she’ll fully support the law, arguing that it will improve business confidence without eroding freedoms.
On Tuesday, Lam continued to call on citizens to support the legislation, saying, “We are a very free society, so for the time being people have the freedom to say whatever they want to say.”
However, she also added that once the law passes, that could make demonstrations like we’ve seen over the past year illegal.
Also Tuesday morning, reports indicated that Hong Kong demand for VPN’s surged more than 600% the day that China announced the draft law.
See what others are saying: (CNBC) (BBC) (South China Morning Post)
Louisville Mayor Calls for “Thorough Investigation” Into the Killing of Breonna Taylor
- Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot eight times and killed by three Louisville police officers who incorrectly entered her home on a search warrant.
- The suspect they were looking for lived in another part of the city and had already been apprehended.
- When the officers entered, Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker thought their home was being broken into, prompting Walker to shoot at one of the officers, who sustained an injury. Walker has been charged with assault and attempted murder.
- A complaint against the officers states that they shot around the apartment “with a total disregard for the value of human life.” Some shots even made it into the neighboring house. None of the officers have been charged.
- The shooting happened in March but did not make headlines until this week when Benjamin Crump, Ahmaud Arbery’s lawyer, took on the case. Louisville’s mayor is also requesting a thorough investigation.
Mayor Speaks Out
The mayor of Louisville said Tuesday that a serious investigation needs to be conducted after a woman was shot eight times and killed by police who entered her home at night, looking for a suspect who lived in another part of the city.
“As always, my priority is that the truth comes out, and for justice to follow the path of truth.” mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “I have spoken with LMPD Chief Steve Conrad about this case and he is well aware of the need for a thorough investigation.”
Breonna Taylor Killed by Police
On March 13, Breonna Taylor, an EMT, was asleep in her apartment with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. According to an April complaint, which was obtained by the Courier Journal, three officers in plainclothes arrived there at around 12:30 a.m.
The officers were acting on a search warrant, but the suspect they were looking for lived in a different part of the city. He had already been apprehended in his own home by officers earlier that day.
The complaint claims that the officers did not knock on the door and entered unannounced. The Louisville Metro Police Department has since said that the officers had a no-knock warrant, meaning they would not have to do so if they thought identifying themselves could be dangerous. When they got into her home, Taylor and Walker thought they were breaking in. Police say that Walker, who has a license to carry, shot at one of the officers, prompting them to fire back.
The complaint says the three officers did so “with a total disregard for the value of human life.”
“Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home and also into the adjacent home, where a five-year-old child and a pregnant mother had been sleeping,” the complaint reads. “Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times by the officers’ gunfire and died as a result. Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die in their hands.”
The three officers have been identified as Brett Hankinson, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, all of whom have been placed on administrative reassignment. According to the complaint, Cosgrove has a prior history of shooting a Louisville resident seven times.
The complaint also claims that Hankinson has a history of using unnecessary force and corruption as an officer. This includes incidents where he has sent citizens to the hospital after being tased and pepper-sprayed, fought with citizens, broken car windshields, and punched someone so hard that he himself needed stitches.
Case Gets National Attention
This complaint alleges battery, wrongful death, negligence, and excessive force against the officers. No charges have been pressed against them. On the other side, Walker is being charged with attempted murder and assault, as his shot hit and injured Officer Mattingly. Neither Walker or Taylor have any criminal history.
While the shooting occurred back in March, it did not make national headlines until Taylor’s family hired Benjamin Crump to represent them. Crump is also representing Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while running unarmed in a Georgia neighborhood.
“This was a botched execution of a search warrant where they already had the person they were searching for in custody,” Crump said in a statement. “We stand with the family of this young woman in demanding answers from the Louisville Police Department.”
The LMPD has not issued public statements about the case because the investigation is ongoing. Online, the case has started to get attention from prominent politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kamala Harris.