Facebook's Zuckerberg defends Trump content decisions to staff

Kurt Wagner and Sarah Frier

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told staff at a companywide meeting that he won’t change his mind about a decision to leave up posts shared by U.S. President Donald Trump last week that many workers felt violated the company’s policies against violent rhetoric.

At an all-hands meeting via video chat on Tuesday, Zuckerberg took questions from employees, many of whom have publicly voiced dismay that the Trump posts, which seemed to threaten that looters would be shot, were still visible on Facebook’s service. Zuckerberg told workers that he and other members of the company’s policy team could not justify the post as clearly inciting violence, which means it didn’t break Facebook’s rules, according to two people who attended the meeting.

In this Oct. 25, 2019 photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Paley Center in New York.

Zuckerberg added that Facebook is exploring whether the company should change the policy, or come up with other ways to flag violating posts besides taking them down entirely, one person said.

On Friday, the president had posted a message with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis.

The same posts were also shared to rival social network Twitter Inc., which then added a warning and filter to the messages. A number of Facebook employees, including some senior figures, have criticized the company’s approach, challenging Zuckerberg’s decision to leave the posts up, and on Monday some workers participated in a virtual walkout in protest.