Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook allowed President Trump’s post about “shooting” protesters in Minneapolis to remain on its platform because “people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”
“Although the post had a troubling historical reference, we decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Friday. “Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be.”
Trump’s Facebook post in question included the same comments he made on Twitter about how “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — comments that have a racist historical context and led Twitter to place a content warning on his tweet for “glorifying violence.”
But Zuckerberg, who said he personally had a “visceral negative reaction” to the “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric” used in Trump’s post, said that Facebook did not have a policy of “putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence.”
“We believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician. We have been in touch with the White House today to explain these policies as well,” Zuckerberg said.
Mark Zuckerberg also pointed to a subsequent post that Trump made, in which the president said his looting and shooting phrase was “spoken as a fact, not as a statement” and that he didn’t “want this to happen.”
“We decided that this post, which explicitly discouraged violence, also does not violate our policies and is important for people to see,” Zuckerberg said.
“I know people are frustrated when we take a long time to make these decisions. These are difficult decisions and, just like today, the content we leave up I often find deeply offensive. We try to think through all the consequences, and we keep our policies under constant review because the context is always evolving,” Zuckerberg continued. “People can agree or disagree on where we should draw the line, but I hope they understand our overall philosophy is that it is better to have this discussion out in the open, especially when the stakes are so high. 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.”
Read Mark Zuckerberg’s full post here.