I stand with you, your lives matter: Zuckerberg promises to review Facebook content policies
Here's the full text of what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said about reviewing the platform's content policy amid the Black Lives Matter protests raging across the US
Both Facebook and Zuckerberg faced a lot of flack from its employees for not taking a firm stand against Donald Trump's posts with many staging a virtual walkout on Monday this week. Some employees even resigned.
Zuckerberg acknowledged this unrest with an hour-and-a-half long video call with all his employees where he took questions from them and explained why Facebook chose to leave Trump's post un-moderated on the platform.
Essentially, Zuckerberg was of the opinion that for one, all Facebook users should see the post themselves, and two, he believed that the post was not violating any Facebook policy. You can read the full transcript of the video call here.
Of course, this ruffled more feathers than actually helping the situation. However, there seems to have been a change of heart - both for Zuckerberg and, therefore, Facebook.
In a long post on Facebook, posted earlier today, Zuckerberg wrote - “As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community. I also want to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt.”
“I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I'm committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction,” he added.
“Many of you have asked what concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies. I want to share more about the seven areas I discussed at Q&A that we're focusing on initially,” Zuckerberg said adding that based on feedback from “employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we're exploring the following areas, which fit into three categories: ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement”.
“I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them,” Zuckerberg said and then went on to list what they plan to do in all the three areas.
Here's the full post:
I just shared the following note with our employees, and I want to share it with all of you as well.
As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community. I also want to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt. So I am especially grateful that, despite your heartfelt disagreement, you remain focused on taking positive steps to move forward. That can't be easy, so I just want to say I hear you and I'm grateful.
I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I'm committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction. To all of you who have already worked tirelessly on ideas to improve, I thank you. You're making a difference, and together we'll make a difference. And while we will continue to stand for giving everyone a voice and erring on the side of free expression in these difficult decisions -- even when it's speech we strongly and viscerally disagree with -- I'm committed to making sure we also fight for voter engagement and racial justice too.
Many of you have asked what concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies. I want to share more about the seven areas I discussed at Q&A that we're focusing on initially. Based on feedback from employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we're exploring the following areas, which fit into three categories: ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement. I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them.
Ideas related to specific policies:
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.
Ideas related to decision-making:
4. We're going to work on establishing a clearer and more transparent decision-making process. This is clearly not the last difficult decision we're going to have to make, and I agree with the feedback from many of you that we should have a more transparent process about how we weigh the different values and equities at stake, including safety and privacy. I think we can provide more transparency into what goes into the policy briefings and recommendations that get sent to me. These analyses are done thoroughly by Monika Bickert's team and take into account many voices. Since I accept the team's recommendations the vast majority of the time, this process is where I think we should focus most on transparency. For the most sensitive escalations where I discuss with the team further rather than just accepting their recommendation over email, we can try to outline how we incorporate all perspectives into those follow-up discussions as well, even though that tends to vary depending on the equities at stake in each decision.
5. More broadly, we're going to review whether we need to change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table -- not only when decisions affecting a certain group are being made, but when other decisions that may set precedents are being made as well. I'm committed to elevating the representation of diversity, inclusion and human rights in our processes and management team discussions, and I will follow up soon with specific thoughts on how we can structurally improve this.
Proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement:
6. We've started a workstream for building products to advance racial justice. Many of you have shared ideas in the past few days on product improvements we can look at, and I've been impressed by how quickly we've moved here. I've asked Fidji to be responsible for this work, and Ime will be shifting some volunteers from our New Products Experimentation team to focus on this as well. They'll have more to share on the first set of projects we're planning to take on soon.
7. We're building a voter hub to double down on our previous get-out-the-vote efforts. At the end of the day, voting is the best way to hold our leaders accountable and address many of these long term questions about justice. Our efforts will draw on lessons we learned from our successful Covid Information Center in order to make our voting and civic engagement efforts as central as our efforts around Covid recovery. We'll focus on making sure everyone has access to accurate and authoritative information about voting, as well as building tools to encourage people to register to vote and help them encourage their friends and communities to vote as well. In 2016, we ran one of the largest get out the vote efforts in history. I expect us to do even better in 2020.
To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter.
We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible. These ideas are a starting point and I'm sure we'll find more to do as we continue on this journey. I encourage you all to also check out Maxine's post about how you can give direct feedback on product, integrity and content policy ideas as well. Thanks for all your input so far, and I'm looking forward to making progress together over the coming weeks and months.