Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that the company will review a number of its policies and decision-making processes, including for content about state use of force.
Facebook has faced backlash for its decision to leave up a post from President Trump because it didn’t violate the social media company’s policy about inciting violence.
Zuckerberg’s public announcement echoed much of what he said to employees during a company question-and-answer session earlier this week, according to a recording Vox obtained.
From Zuckerberg’s memo:
1. 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. Given the sensitive history in the US, this deserves special consideration.
The second case is around when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.
2. We’re going to review our policies around voter suppression to make sure we’re taking into account the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic. I have confidence in the election integrity efforts we’ve implemented since 2016.
We’ve played a role in protecting many elections and now have some of the most advanced systems in the world. But there’s a good chance that there will be unprecedented fear and confusion around going to the polls in November, and some will likely try to capitalize on that confusion.
For example, as politicians debate what the vote-by-mail policies should be in different states, what should be the line between a legitimate debate about the voting policies and attempts to confuse or suppress individuals about how, when or where to vote?
If a newspaper publishes articles claiming that going to polls will be dangerous given Covid, how should we determine whether that is health information or voter suppression?
3. We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions. I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week.
Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down — not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness.
I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon.
In general, I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies, so I think we need to proceed very carefully.