With the recent events Trump has crossed a line for one of the large social networking platforms: Twitter. At the same time, Facebook is continuing to offer the US president itself as megaphone.
Yesterday, The Verge posted some formerly private comments by Mark Zuckerberg about the reasoning for not at least adding warnings or notices around some of Trump’s messages:
Zuckerberg reiterated his unhappiness with Trump’s remarks. “My first reaction … was just disgust,” he said. “This is not how I think we want our leaders to show up during this time. This is a moment that calls for unity and calmness and empathy for people who are struggling.”
Ultimately, he and Bickert said, executives concluded that Trump’s remarks didn’t violate their existing policies.
Fair enough, so posts inciting violence don’t violate existing policies and therefore you cannot outright ban the president’s account or at least remove the offending posts. But, things get really interesting later in the article:
“There is a real question coming out of this, which is whether we want to evolve our policy around the discussion of state use of force,” he told employees Friday. “Over the coming days, as the National Guard is now deployed, probably the largest one that I would worry about would be excessive use of police or military force. I think there’s a good argument that there should be more bounds around the discussion around that.”
This sounds to me more like adapting their guidelines to continue offering Trump a platform no matter what violence he provokes with his posts. Heck, at this point he is basically close to declaring war against large parts of the US population!
This and other similar statements have caused quite a lot of opposition inside the company and, in a rare event, there are also quite a few making their voices heard also on the outside. There have now been walkouts and some people even made the step to send in their letter of resignation!
A big part of Facebook’s success is also their integration with partner companies. Yesterday, Oren Frank announced that Talkspace has discontinued their partnership discussions with Facebook. After recent events I’m pretty sure that quite a few current and possibly future partners are starting to reconsider their relationship with Facebook.
As for normal users: There are various ways a normal user can support social media companies like it. Just to name a few:
- You can help making the platform more attractive for others by posting content there (or even only there).
- You can advertise your presence there and therefore invite other people to the platform.
- You can purchase ads and this way explicitly send them money.
I have never used any of the company’s products excessively, much less exclusively. Even most of my Instagram posts also make their way onto Mastodon and/or Twitter. I’m also not in the market for purchasing ads but I understand people who want or even need to use this road to get more clicks. That being said, Facebook’s policy about data privacy is one thing but them continuing to act as megaphone for messages of violence just to stay relevant is something else entirely.
As for myself, I’ve deleted my Facebook account a long time ago due to privacy concerns and I’m now finally in the process of doing the same for my Instagram account. As of this morning I’ve temporarily disabled it in case the data export I pulled last night didn’t include all my data.