News World US Donald Trump Facebook staff walk out over refusal to act on Trump posts
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Facebook staff walk out over refusal to act on Trump posts

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Hundreds of Facebook employees have staged a virtual walkout against chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to police US President Donald Trump’s posts.

Dozens of staff abandoned their work-from-home desks, while others took to Twitter to criticise Mr Zuckerberg’s decision to leave Mr Trump’s most inflammatory posts unchallenged – even as the rival medium has sparked his anger by labelling it.

The protest on Monday (US time) was a rare case of staff publicly taking their CEO to task, with one employee tweeting that thousands were involved.

They included all seven engineers on the team that maintains the code library that supports Facebook’s apps.

“Facebook’s recent decision to not act on posts that incite violence ignores other options to keep our community safe. We implore the Facebook leadership to #TakeAction,” they said in a joint statement published on Twitter.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” wrote Ryan Freitas, identified on Twitter as director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed. He added he had mobilised “50+ likeminded folks” to lobby for internal change.

A Facebook employee said Zuckerberg’s weekly Friday question-and-answer session would be held on Tuesday this week.

Facebook will also allow employees participating in the protest to take the time off without using holiday leave, spokesman Andy Stone said.

It came as the US appeared set for a seventh night of nationwide unrest following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis last Monday. Video footage showed a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before he died.

On Friday, Twitter added a warning label to a Trump tweet that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. Twitter said the tweet violated rules against glorifying violence but was left up as a public interest exception.

The tweet by Donald Trump that was censored by Twitter.

Facebook declined to do anything about the same message, and Mr Zuckerberg has sought to distance his company from the fight between Mr Trump and Twitter.

In a Facebook post last Friday, he said he found Mr Trump’s remarks “deeply offensive”, but they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence and people should know whether the government was planning to deploy force.

It came as Facebook and Snap became the latest US companies to condemn racial inequality in the US.

The two tech companies stood with Intel, Netflix and Nike in taking a public stance against Mr Floyd’s death.

“We stand with the Black community – and all those working towards justice in honour of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten,” Mr Zuckerberg said in a post late on Sunday.

He said the social network would commit $US10 million ($A15 million) to organisations that are working on racial justice.

Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegel said he was “heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of colour in America”.

“We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country,” he wrote in an internal memo.

On Friday, Nike flipped its iconic slogan to raise awareness about racism.

“For Once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism,” the company said in a video that has over six million views and was shared by celebrities and rival Adidas AG.

-with AAP