Facebook to review policy on content after backlash over Trump's posts

SAN FRANCISCO • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would consider changes to the policy that led the company to leave up controversial posts by US President Donald Trump during recent protests against the death of an unarmed black man while in police custody, a partial concession to critics.

Mr Zuckerberg did not promise specific policy changes in a Facebook post on Friday, days after staff members walked off the job, some claiming he kept finding new excuses not to challenge Mr Trump.

"I know many of you think we should have labelled the President's posts in some way last week," Mr Zuckerberg wrote, referring to his decision not to remove Mr Trump's message containing the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".

"We're going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt," he wrote. "We're going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions."

Mr Zuckerberg also said Facebook would be more transparent about its decision-making on whether to take down posts, review policies on posts that could cause voter suppression and would look to build software to advance racial justice.

At a staff meeting earlier last week, employees questioned Mr Zuckerberg's stance on Mr Trump's post.

Mr Zuckerberg, who holds a controlling stake in Facebook, has maintained that while he found Mr Trump's comments "deeply offensive", they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.

Facebook's policy is to either take down a post or leave it up, without any other options.

Now, Mr Zuckerberg said, other possibilities would be considered.

However, he added: "I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialise on content we don't like even if it doesn't violate our policies."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 07, 2020, with the headline 'Facebook to review policy on content after backlash over Trump's posts'. Print Edition | Subscribe