Some Facebook employees reportedly see Donald Trump's posts as hate speech and would consequently like to remove them, but Mark Zuckerberg said no.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has raised a whole lot of controversy with his speeches, remarks and posts, which are often seen as racist, sexist and plain hate speech.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, Trump's latest posts in which he expressed his goal to ban Muslim immigration to the United States has fueled a fiery debate within Facebook. Employees reportedly wanted to enforce Facebook's community standards and block Trump's posts as hate speech, but Zuckerberg ultimately decided against removing the controversial posts.
Zuckerberg said that deleting Trump's posts would mean censoring a political candidate. Employees worldwide reportedly filed complaints over Zuckerberg's decision to keep Trump's offending posts, but it was not unanimous. Others supported Zuckerberg's decision, so it's a mixed bowl of feelings down at Facebook headquarters around the world.
The heated dispute among Facebook employees has deeper implications, as it not only shows just how big of a role Facebook plays as a platform to distribute news and opinions, but it also proves the company's reluctance to make editorial decisions regarding the contact of some speeches and posts such as Trump's.
Facebook went under fire earlier this year when it was accused of bias against conservatives, allegedly suppressing conservative news from its Trending Topics. The company said it was not shoving its political views onto Trending Topics, promoting or burying news based on its preferences, and decided to crack down on editorial employees to prove it.
The company could be worried that removing Trump's posts might again spark accusations of bias. Coincidence or not, the WSJ's report regarding the Trump debate amid Facebook employees comes on the same day the social network announced that it would ease up on its explicit content restrictions in cases when the post is considered newsworthy or in the public interest.
Trump's posts about Muslim immigration don't fall under explicit content, and will not be banned as hate speech either. Zuckerberg is well-aware that removing a presidential candidate's posts — fomenting or not — from its social network could have dire consequences.
Facebook's mission to connect people worldwide implies a high degree of neutrality when it comes to political matters, and removing the posts of a presidential candidate would automatically chip away from that neutrality and draw criticism from those who don't see the remarks as hate speech.
At the same time, Facebook is in a tough spot having to arbitrate and rule what should be considered acceptable political speech and what takes it too far and is undeniably hate speech.