Nearly three dozen former Facebook Inc. employees, dismayed with Mark Zuckerberg’s hands-off policy on President Donald Trump’s posts and his defensive posture on the matter, forcefully pushed back in a stinging letter released Wednesday.
“We grew up at Facebook, but it is no longer ours,” the 33 former employees, who joined Facebook FB, -1.10% in its early stages and some of whom helped author its original Community Standards, said in the letter.
“Today, Facebook’s leadership interprets freedom of expression to mean that they should do nothing — or very nearly nothing — to interfere in political discourse,” they added. “They have decided that elected officials should be held to a lower standard than those they govern. One set of rules for you, and another for any politician, from your local mayor to the president of the United States.”
The pressure comes amid mounting pressure on Zuckerberg to fact-check Trump’s posts over the weekend that seemed to stoke violence in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Twitter Inc. TWTR, +8.12% , conversely, has fact-checked and removed some of the president’s words.
Zuckerberg defended his lack of action because, he said, Facebook should not become the “arbiter of truth.” That prompted dozens of Facebook employees to stage a virtual walkout from work on Monday, leading to a contentious town hall meeting on Tuesday in which the Facebook chief executive double-downed on his decision.
The latest pressure point came Wednesday afternoon, with the letter from former employees.
“To Mark: We know that you think deeply about these issues, but we also know that Facebook must work to regain the public’s trust,” the letter concludes. “Facebook isn’t neutral, and it never has been. Making the world more open and connected, strengthening communities, giving everyone a voice — these are not neutral ideas. Fact-checking is not censorship. Labeling a call to violence is not authoritarianism. Please reconsider your position.”