The clash between Twitter and Donald Trump splashes Facebook, in a delicate position since its boss, Mark Zuckerberg, refused to sanction controversial remarks by the president and is publicly disavowed by employees – a rare phenomenon in Silicon Valley.
“Mark is wrong, and I’m going to try to make him change his mind by making a lot of noise,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, design director for Facebook’s News Feed, on Sunday.
On Monday, the movement gained momentum with an online strike by several employees, including Sara Zhang, who said on Twitter: “We must face the danger, not stay under cover.”
Originally, two unprecedented Twitter interventions last week.
The platform first reported two tweets from the US president about postal voting with the words “check the facts”.
Mark Zuckerberg then reminded Fox News that the platforms, he said, should not play the role of “arbiters of truth online” – an interview retweeted by Donald Trump.
Then, on Friday, Twitter masked another message from the White House tenant, about the clashes in Minneapolis after the death of a black man, George Floyd, for violating the network’s guidelines on the praise of violence.
“The lootings will be immediately greeted by bullets,” said Donald Trump of the protests which degenerate into riots.
These comments also appear on Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg decided to leave them visible, “after hesitating all day”.
In a publication on his profile, he said that he condemned the “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric” of the president as “personal”, but did not intend to delete the messages, in the name of freedom of expression and the public interest in get informed.
– The rebels of the network –
“I know that many people are unhappy (…), but our position is to facilitate as much expression as possible, unless there is an imminent risk of harm to others or of dangers as described in our regulations” .
Twitter and Facebook have set up systems to combat dangerous content (hate speech, harassment, etc.) and against disinformation.
But Facebook exempts political figures and candidates from the essential of these measures.
“I don’t know what to do, but I know that doing nothing is not acceptable. I am a Facebook employee who completely disagrees with Mark’s decision to do nothing about recent Trump posts, which clearly urge violence, “Jason Stirman, a research and development officer for the company, tweeted on Saturday on Saturday.
“I am not alone at Facebook. There is no neutral position on racism,” he added.
In fact, several other employees took the floor this weekend.
“I think Trump’s tweet (on looting) encourages extrajudicial violence and fuels racism. Respect for the Twitter team,” writes designer David Gillis.
Sara Zhang and other employees are calling for a change in the rules, which offer only two options: leave the content or remove it.
“Facebook’s decision not to act on posts that incite violence ignores other options for keeping our community safe,” she notes.
On Twitter, the president’s message in question remained visible despite the warning, but users cannot retweet, “like” or respond to it.
– Call to a friend –
To make matters worse, the American press revealed on Sunday that Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump met on Friday by telephone.
The conversation was “productive,” according to anonymous sources on the specialty site Axios and the CNBC channel. It has neither been confirmed nor denied by the parties concerned.
The question now arises about the ability of Facebook’s all-new “Supreme Court” to intervene.
“We are aware that people want the Council to address many important issues related to online content,” said the network’s “Supervisory Council”, which took shape earlier this month.
He is supposed to have the final say on whether or not to maintain controversial content, independently.
The network giant is directly affected by Donald Trump’s counterattack against Twitter.
The US president signed a decree on Thursday attacking a fundamental law of the American internet, Section 230, which offers digital platforms immunity from any legal action related to content published by third parties. And gives them the freedom to intervene as they please to police the exchanges.