Inside sources have told that Wall Street Journal that the Facebook moderation team wanted to remove a post by presidential candidate Donald Trump. However, leadership at Facebook, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, decided to let the post remain in order to keep the site politically neutral.
The controversy erupted in December of last year when Trump made a Facebook post which linked to a statement on his own site that calls for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States. Many Facebook users flagged the post as hate speech and this caused an internal debate within the company, but the moderators largely agreed that the post violated the site’s guidelines on hate speech. However, the moderators were instructed by their managers not to remove posts made by Trump.
Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, stated in an internal memo that Trump’s posts would not be removed so that the platform could remain neutral during the election season. Many employees believed the company was bending its own rules for Trump’s benefit. Some took their complaints directly to Zuckerberg. He agreed that Trump’s statements were hate speech, but stated that the implications of removing them would be too drastic.
While some employees supported the decision and believed that it was not right to remove posts where a presidential candidate describes their political positions, others in the company did not agree. Over a dozen Muslim employees were said to have discussed the matter with their managers and some threatened to leave the company, although it’s not clear that any of them followed through with that threat.
These internal deliberations are just one example of how Facebook has struggled to appear non-partisan during this election season. In May, Facebook was accused of discriminating against conservatives and conservative news sources in its trending topics. Facebook responded first by offering some insight into how the trending topics are chosen, and later by firing its trending topics staff and running the entire system purely by an algorithm.
Facebook became embroiled in another political controversy last week when Peter Thiel, a member of the company’s board, donated to the Trump campaign. This caused controversy both inside and outside the company. A leaked internal memo by Zuckerberg calls for tolerance of Thiel’s beliefs. It states, “We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate.”
Is Facebook a politically neutral platform, or is it biased against certain viewpoints? Leave your comments below.