After Facebook staff walkout, Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump posts

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Facebook <FB.O> CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Tuesday that he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by U.S. President Donald Trump, refusing to give ground a day after staff members staged a rare public protest.

A group of Facebook employees – nearly all of them working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic – walked off the job on Monday. They complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Zuckerberg told employees on a video chat that Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged, a company spokeswoman said.

She said Zuckerberg also acknowledged the decision had upset many employees and said the company was looking into “non-binary” options beyond either leaving up such posts or taking them down.

One Facebook employee, who tweeted criticism on Monday, posted again on Twitter during the all-hands meeting to express disappointment.

“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” Facebook employee Brandon Dail wrote on Twitter. Dail’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a user interface engineer at Facebook in Seattle.

On Friday, Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> affixed a warning label to a Trump tweet about widespread protests over the death of a black man in Minnesota that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter said the post violated its rules against glorifying violence but was left up as a public interest exception, with reduced options for interactions and distribution.

Facebook declined to act on the same message, and Zuckerberg sought to distance his company from the fight between the president and Twitter. He maintained that while he found Trump’s remarks “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.

Twitter last week also put a fact-checking label on two Trump tweets containing misleading claims about mail-in ballots. Facebook, which exempts politicians’ posts from its program with third-party fact-checkers, took no action on that post.

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