Facebook Employees Argue Trump's Posts Should Be Banned As Hate Speech
Some Facebook employees have argued that Donald Trump’s posts on the social network should be designated as hate speech and removed, according to a new report. The Wall Street Journal said today that Trump posts calling for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States had triggered an emotional debate inside Facebook over enforcement of the company’s community standards. CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately ruled against deleting the posts, which he argued would amount to censorship of a political candidate, according to the Journal.
The internal arguments started after Trump began discussing Muslim immigration last December, the report said. Zuckerberg’s decision not to delete Trump’s posts, as an unspecified number of employees had called for, drew complaints from employees around the world, it said. (It reportedly also generated support for Zuckerberg’s decision.) The Journal’s report comes on the same day that Facebook said it would loosen some of its restrictions on explicit content if the post is deemed newsworthy or in the public interest.
The dispute reflects both Facebook’s enormous importance as a distributor of news and opinion and its deep discomfort with making editorial judgments around the content of speech. A controversy over reports that it had "suppressed" conservative news from its Trending Topics module earlier this year led the company to purge most of its editorial employees, who helped make decisions about which stories to highlight.
But the company has since been repeatedly hammered for editorial missteps. A BuzzFeed analysis this week charted in ugly detail the way Facebook has been used this year to spread inaccurate and outright false stories to millions of readers. The company also drew criticism for removing an iconic photo of the Vietnam War and blocking an animated video that promoted breast cancer awareness.