Mark Zuckerberg publicly promises to re-examine Facebook's rules on posts related to state violence

rprice@businessinsider.com (Rob Price)
Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook plans to re-examine its policies on state violence.
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is taking a number of steps to reconsider how it polices its platform.
  • The public post came after mass protests across the US, and a controversial post from Donald Trump that prompted Facebook employees to revolt.
  • The 36-year-old billionaire chief executive didn't announce much in the way of concrete new products or policies — just areas the company will look at.
  • Zuckerberg also wrote that "Black lives matter."
  • Contact this reporter at rprice@businessinsider.com or 650-636-6268. Anonymity offered.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly promised to re-examine the social network's policies on state violence after an unprecedented week of protests across the US — and among Facebook employees.

In a note to employees that he also shared on his public-facing Facebook page on Friday, Zuckerberg said "As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community … Based on feedback from employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we're exploring … ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement."

The note came after an immense furor at the company over posts made by President Donald Trump in response to the protests sweeping across the country.

In more than 300 cities, people have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest racism and police brutality after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Trump responded on social media that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" — a phrase with racist origins that Twitter and Snapchat both determined violated their rules on glorifying violence.

Facebook disagreed, saying it did not break its rules — a determination that provoked fury among employees, sparking a virtual "walkout" protest of hundreds of workers, as well as resignations.

In his Friday note, Zuckerberg wrote: "We're going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt. There are two specific situations under this policy that we're going to review. The first is around instances of excessive use of police or state force ... The second case is around when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts."

The promise came as part of seven areas the 36-year-old billionaire chief executive said Facebook was considering. The list also includes re-examining voter suppression rules, options for responding to rule-breaking content beyond just leaving it up or taking it down, ways to add more transparency on controversial content moderation decisions, and possible structural changes at Facebook around decision-making.

Facebook is also building a "voter hub" to provide information on elections, he said. Beyond this, Zuckerberg made little concrete product or policy announcements — instead committing to re-examine how the company functions, without promising definite changes.

Zuckerberg signed off with a message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. "To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter," he wrote, adding:

"We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible. These ideas are a starting point and I'm sure we'll find more to do as we continue on this journey."

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