A group of civil rights leaders who spoke with Mark Zuckerberg Monday night blasted the Facebook CEO afterward for his refusal to take action on posts by President Donald Trump they say incite violence.
In a joint statement, Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Rashad Robinson of Color of Change said they were “disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up.”
“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 statement continued. “Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”
Trump’s posts came as protests flared around the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. In one message, Trump called protesters “THUGS” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” parroting a racist Miami police chief’s quote against 1960s civil rights protests.
Twitter placed Trump’s posts on that platform behind a warning label that said they violated rules against “glorifying violence.” The company didn’t take the tweets down, however, saying it was “in the public’s interest” for the president’s posts to remain accessible.
Facebook did nothing.
Facebook told HuffPost the company appreciated the “candid” dialogue.
“We’re grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback with Mark and Sheryl,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “It is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, policy executives Nick Clegg and Joel Kaplan, and external affairs director Lindsay Elin were also on the call with the civil rights leaders. Kaplan’s inclusion is notable ― he’s a close friend of Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh and supported Kavanaugh’s controversial nomination at the expense of Facebook’s reputation.