Civil rights leaders condemned Facebook’s inaction on a recent series of controversial posts from President Donald Trump following a conversation Monday between their groups and top Facebook execs, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Zuckerberg is setting “a very dangerous precedent,” read a statement from the organizations, which included the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Color of Change.
“We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up,” the groups said in their joint statement. “He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters.”
The meeting followed criticism from people inside and outside Facebook over the company’s decision not to take action on multiple Trump posts, including one about a protest that warned “looting” would lead to “shooting.” Twitter, Facebook’s rival, flagged that post with a warning label for “glorifying violence.”
But Zuckerberg took a different approach, saying although he had a “visceral negative reaction” to Trump’s posts personally, he felt a broader responsibility as a “leader of an institution committed to free expression.”
The meeting between the groups and Facebook execs took place Monday evening via video conference, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting were confidential. The civil rights groups requested the meeting, the person said.
Nick Clegg, head of Facebook’s global policy and communications, and Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s VP of global public policy, were also on the call, according to two people familiar with the matter.
In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said: “We’re grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback with Mark and Sheryl. It is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.”
Zuckerberg’s meeting with civil rights groups came the same day that Facebook’s own employees revolted against company leaders on the Trump content — in a rare display of public disagreement.