Why Facebook Employees Wanted To Mark Trump Posts As Hate Speech

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.
The Wall Street Journal reports that election stress is taking its toll on Facebook employees, who saw Trump campaign posts as hate speech and advocated for censorship.

A Trump campaign statement published on December 7 that advocated a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" sparked the internal controversy after Facebook users flagged it as hate speech. That triggered an internal content review by the site's community operations team, some of whom determined that the post met Facebook's definition of hate speech. But the post was never removed, because Facebook leadership determined that it would threaten the social network's standard of election impartiality.

In January, Mark Zuckerberg even acknowledged in a company town hall meeting that the anti-Muslim rhetoric qualified as hate speech. But he made the executive decision that it would be overreaching to censor a presidential candidate.

"Many people are voicing opinions about this particular content and it has become an important part of the conversation around who the next U.S. president will be," read a statement provided by Facebook to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg struck a similar tone when defending his choice to not remove billionaire Trump supporter Peter Thiel from the Facebook's board of directors. The decision was revealed in an internal memo initially leaked to HackerNews and reported on by CBS News.

“We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half of the country because they back a political candidate,” Zuckerberg wrote. “There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia, or accepting sexual assault.”

One thing's for sure: Facebook users probably have plenty to say about that.

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