Race and Economy

Facebook employees stage virtual protest over inaction on posts from Trump

Molly Wood Jun 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Race and Economy

Facebook employees stage virtual protest over inaction on posts from Trump

Molly Wood Jun 2, 2020
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Facebook employees have staged a virtual walkout, speaking out publicly and starting petitions internally to protest CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on a post from President Donald Trump.

Zuckerberg opted not to remove or otherwise flag a comment by Trump that echoed language used in 1967 by a police chief with a long history of bigotry. Meanwhile, Twitter flagged it for glorifying violence.

It’s very unusual for Facebook employees to publicly dissent with the company. They’ve felt attacked by the media for a long time, and they’ve defended the company’s role in the American election, global events and misinformation. But, for many of them, this is just too far.

It’s partly because Facebook, like so many tech companies, simply doesn’t have a good record on diversity.

Black and Latino employees are a tiny fraction of Facebook’s employees. Black workers have complained publicly and privately about racism and discrimination inside the company.

And, ironically, Black users and activists have also complained for years that Facebook often deletes posts that discuss racism, and tags them as containing hate speech.

In this moment, Zuckerberg is between a rock and a hard place, but he’s not likely to side with his employees.

Facebook has worked hard to forge a good relationship with the Trump administration and conservative media. It’s trying to avoid regulation after seeing the consequences of Twitter acting to either fact-check or tamp down the president’s tweets.

It’s likely that Facebook won’t want to do an about-face now and risk angering Trump even more.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.