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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts

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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.” 

@DiegoMendes

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. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Forbes) (CNBC)

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James Charles Denies Grooming Allegations

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  • Over the weekend, a 16-year-old who goes by Isaiyah accused 21-year-old YouTuber James Charles of grooming him.
  • Isaiyah shared censored versions of nude photos James allegedly sent him as well as Snapchat messages showing the YouTuber allegedly asking for explicit photos. 
  • James denied the accusations, saying Isaiyah initiated contact with him, sent lewd photos first, and told him he was 18. James also claimed that once he learned Isaiyah was 16, he stopped contact, though Isaiyah insists this is not the case.
  • Since then, two more people have come forward with their own stories detailing situations where they felt James acted inappropriately with them.

James Charles Accused of Grooming

James Charles is denying grooming allegations after a 16-year-old posted videos accusing the YouTuber of sending and asking for explicit photos. 

The accuser, who goes by Isaiyah, shared his allegations in videos on both Twitter and TikTok last week. On the latter platform, he has over 260,000 followers.

Isaiyah claims that he and James began talking on Snapchat on February 17, and he hoped the conversation would give him a chance to interact with an influencer he looked up to. However, Isaiah says James ended up making their conversation sexual. 

He shared photos of their interactions, including one snap where James is allegedly asking for Isaiyah to send videos taken in the shower. In another, James appears to mention Isaiyah’s genitals and says, “I bet you can make me finish just by flexing and showing off your hair.”

Isaiyah also shared censored nude and partially nude images that James allegedly sent, which he says prompted him to tell the YouTuber he is only 16.

“I was getting really uncomfortable so I told him my age and I told him I was 16 and meanwhile, he’s 21, he’s a grown man,” Isaiyah said in the video. “And then he proceeds to say, ‘oh but I didn’t get to see the….yet’ meaning my body. And after telling him no, like I’m not going to send it to you, like, he kept asking for videos and pictures of body hair and me flexing and stuff.” 

Even after this, Isaiyah claims James still asked to FaceTime with him. He ultimately said the interaction left him seeing James in a new way. 

“I’ve heard multiple stories about him doing this to people but you never believe it until it happens to you,” Isaiyah said. “So now, I’m a big believer of what James Charles does to other people.” 

Both TikTok and Twitter have since removed the videos detailing these accusations, according to Insider. 

James Charles Denies Allegations

On Friday, James took to Twitter to tell his side of the story. He called the grooming accusations “completely false.” He then said he found Isaiyah on Instagram’s explore page.

He said he noticed that Isaiyah followed him, so he decided to add him on Snapchat. James also claims he woke up to multiple messages from Isaiyah saying how excited he was to speak to him, as well as lewd photos from him.

“I asked how old he was right away and he told me he was 18 so I started flirting back,” James continued, adding that he never saw ID to verify his age. 

It’s now clear, based on the video he uploaded, he was taking photos of me with another device, and had an ulterior motive from the beginning,” he continued.

“Later in the day, he said a few things that made me question the validity of his original age answer and when I asked him to confirm his age once again, he admitted he was 16.”

“I told him I was really uncomfortable and apologized for flirting, but he insisted on continuing talking, saying it could be our little secret, he’s a fan of mine and would never tell anyone,” the post continued. “I told him I wasn’t okay with this, he started getting upset, and at this point I unfriended him. We haven’t spoken since.”

James wrote that he was not trying to victim blame or make himself out as the victim, but instead wanted to share his story because he has dealt with accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past. Moving forward, he stressed that he will ask people for their ID or passports to verify their age before speaking with them. 

Isaiyah shot back at James’ statement and insisted the popular influencer was well aware of his age. 

“James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age. After I told you I was 16 you proceeded to ask me for nudes and said it didn’t matter,” he wrote. “You called me hot and said ‘I wish the timeline could speed up so you can be 18.’”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

“If you’re gonna text someone, make sure you know their age,” he added in another tweet. “He added me on insta, my insta has my tik tok which shows me age.”

In another post, he said he would be contacting the police about the situation. 

More People Speak Out

At least two more people have since come forward with their own stories about James over the weekend. One said on Twitter that they told James they were 17-years-old, but the YouTuber still flirted with them on social media.

They said nothing sexual happened; however, it still felt weird, making them feel compelled to share the story as others were speaking out. Those tweets have since been deleted. 

Another person, who goes by LifeOfUzzy on Twitter, said they had a “disgusting” experience with James. In a lengthy Twitter thread, he shared screenshots of their messages and a video his brother recorded of him opening a Snapchat from James as proof of their interactions. He claims that things started out fine but took a turn when James began flirting.

“We started talking for a little and he was actually A VERY NICE person the first few days. He told me he wasn’t looking for anything until he started calling me ‘daddy’ and ‘babe,’ LifeOfUzzy wrote.

He then shared a video of James allegedly spamming him, asking to do a video call, and apparently asking him to do “disgusting things.”

LifeOfUzzy wrote that after James allegedly used him for “sexual pleasure,” he sent James a message ending things and asking him to delete the pictures he screenshotted. 

LifeOfUzzy explained more details in a series of TikToks and a YouTube video, claiming he was just looking to get to know James, but that James clearly had no interest in this and was asking him for specific and explicit pictures. He said James stopped talking to him after declined. 

James has not responded to these two newer allegations yet. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Cosmopolitan) (Dexerto)

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Former Member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad Says He Was Sexually Assaulted by Jason Nash on Video

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  • Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a 2017 prank that YouTubers David Dobrik and Jason Nash pulled on him.
  • Francois agreed to be in a video where he would make out with fellow Vlog Squad member Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. However, the costumed person he actually kissed was 45-year-old Nash.
  • In 2018, Dobrik pulled a nearly identical prank on Francois again, despite Francois repeatedly stating he was not okay with what happened.
  • Francois says he is not trying to “cancel” anyone but his attempts to resolve the matter behind closed doors with Dobrik have not been successful, so he felt he had to tell his story publicly. 

Seth Francois Calls Kissing Prank Sexual Assault

Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a prank that massive YouTuber David Dobrik pulled on him with fellow creator Jason Nash. 

Francois first told his story to Ethan and Hila Klein on the H3 Podcast on Feb. 12. The prank in question happened in 2017. At the time, Dobrik asked Francois if he wanted to be in a video where he made out with Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. Francois agreed, but when he kissed the costumed person, Kopf was not the one behind the mask. Instead, it was 45-year-old Nash. 

“I was touched by someone I did not consent to,” Francois said on the podcast. 

He told BuzzFeed News that it felt wrong when it happened, but as more time passed, he began to feel even worse. He decided to call a sexual assault hotline to talk about and processs the situation. 

“They said, ‘I’m sorry you were sexually assaulted.’ And I broke down,” Francois told the outlet. “I called my mother and some of my close friends and I said, ‘I can’t believe that happened to me.'”

Francois said Dobrik asked if they could make a similar video again, but Francois refused, explaining he did not like the prank and did not want to have to go through that again. Still, in 2018 Dobrik ended up pulling a nearly identical stunt. 

The second time, Dobrik told Francois that they were making a commercial for Jack Link’s Jerky, which Francois was thrilled about. When Francois got to the set, there were people in gorilla costumes, and he was instructed to make out with one. When that person took their mask off, it was Nash again. 

Francois said this incident ultimately led to him moving out of Los Angeles.

Jack Link’s Jerky has since tweeted that they were not involved in the stunt and do not condone any non-consensual conduct that occurred. 

Other Allegations Against Dobrik and The Vlog Squad

On top of all this, Francois said that during his time in the Vlog Squad, he was pressured to participate in racist jokes that played into stereotypes about Black people. He felt he could not say no to these bits.

“It was an unwritten thing where you see a pattern of people saying, ‘Yo, I’m uncomfortable with this,’ and all of a sudden they disappear and they’re not in videos anymore,” he explained on the H3 Podcast. 

These are just the latest in a series of accusations former Vlog Squad members have made about Dobrik, Nash, and group’s general culture. Nik Keswani, known to fans as Big Nik, explained to H3 that the group was “toxic” and like a cult. Keswani said that he was bullied and felt forced to make jokes about his own size, which led to other people thinking they could make fun of him in cruel ways. 

YouTuber Trisha Paytas has also accused Dobrik and Nash of inappropriate behavior on multiple occasions. Both she and Francois also say they have heard rumors about Nash assaulting other people or sleeping with minors. In some cases, Paytas says victims have contacted her directly about it. 

Dobrik has not commented on the sexual assault allegations brought up by Francois, but over the summer he did issue a general apology for offensive content he had posed in his past. 

“I want them to have a positive experience when they interact with anything I produce,” he said on his podcast, “Views.”

“And with that being said, I feel like on a handful of occasions I just missed the mark on that, and that really bums me out.”

Why Francois Is Speaking Out

For a long time, Dobrik has been a top creator on YouTube. He is known for his Tesla giveaways and was dubbed Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon by The Wall Street Journal. Francois said he felt the need to speak out because he fears Dobrik is not remorseful and is unaware of the harm he has caused. 

“If [Dobrik and Nash] don’t know what’s wrong and they don’t understand that what they did was wrong, it makes me feel like that could still happen. Or maybe it has happened to other people who are afraid of speaking up,” he told BuzzFeed

Francois said that he has asked for the videos to be removed, but Dobrik tried to offer him cash to keep them up. Dobrik eventually unlisted both prank videos and later privated the second one.

Francois has since tried to resolve the matter privately but has not gotten a response from Dobrik. He told Insider that his goal in speaking up is not to “cancel” anyone, though he felt he had no option but to make the matter public. He is now also considering legal action, which is a path he initially did not want to go down.

“People were saying I’ve betrayed David, but I feel like he betrayed me,” he told the outlet. “I was very hurt and even right now talking about it, it really makes you want to cry.”

“They profited off causing me a lot of mental trauma, which is something that really hurts to know,” he continued. 

Now, people are calling for Dobrik to respond to the allegations. Many are starting to see his content in a new light and believe he should issue an apology. 

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Insider) (Yahoo)

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Australia Strikes Deal With Facebook To Restore News on the Platform

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  • Facebook said Monday that it will restore news access to Australian users after striking a deal with the country.
  • Last week, Facebook cut off all access to news on the platform in Australia in response to a proposed law that would force it to pay media publishers for hosting their content.
  • In the days that followed, the Australian government offered several concessions to the proposed law, including giving the platform more time to lock down deals with media publishers.
  • Per another amendment, it’s also possible that Facebook could largely escape the law altogether if it is able to strike enough deals with local media organizations.

Facebook Will Restore News

Facebook struck a deal with Australian lawmakers Monday to restore news on the platform in the country.

The announcement comes as a quick turnaround from last week when Facebook made good on a threat to block all forms of news in Australia. Notably, that ban was in response to the expected passing of a law requiring large tech companies to pay media publishers for content that appears on their platforms.

On top of blocking all news organizations in the country, Facebook also blocked all Australian outlets globally. In fact, the ban even seemed to target non-news sources, such as state health departments and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.

After several days of discussions between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Facebook seems to be content with several negotiated changes to the proposed law.

“We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said.

Among those changes, Facebook will receive more time to lock down deals with publishers instead of being forced into immediately making payments. The original draft of the law would have required Facebook to pay for content (ie. headlines, links, etc.) based upon terms set by a government-appointed arbitrator.

Now, that third party will only intervene as a “last resort,” according to Facebook spokesperson Adam Isserlis in an interview with NBC News.

One amendment in the proposed law could also give Facebook a shot at skirting it all together. That’s because it stipulates that digital platforms which have significantly contributed to the Australian news industry could receive exemptions. 

Facebook, for example, might be able to find such an exemption if it brokers enough deals with local publishers. 

Facebook said news should be restored for Australian users in the coming days. 

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Axios) (The New York Times)

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