Scientists funded by Facebook CEO urge Zuckerberg to regulate incendiary speeches

Mumbai | Updated on June 07, 2020

Mark Zuckerberg   -  Bloomberg

Over 140 scientists, who had been funded by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, sent a letter to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, asking him for better enforcement of regulations on his social media platform against inflammatory language, The Washington Post reported.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is the philanthropic organization established by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in 2015. The initiative stresses on using technology to redress social challenges, including criminal justice reform. It is a separate entity from Facebook.

The scientists said in the letter that allowing President Trump to use Facebook in the name of freedom of speech “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements” was not only a violation of Facebook’s policies but “directly antithetical” to CZI’s goal of building a “more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone.”

“We were disconcerted to see that Facebook has not followed their own policies in regards to President Trump,” the letter stated.

“For example, his statement ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is a clear statement of inciting violence,” it added.

The scientists who signed the letter include professors and dignitories from Stanford, Harvard, and a Nobel laureate, among others.

Zuckerberg said on May 29 that Facebook would not take any action against Trump’s “looting” post at a time when Snapchat and Twitter took a stern step against Trump for “glorifying violence.”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that people were “upset” by the decision and said, “Our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause an imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”

The apolitical stance of Zuckerberg pushed Facebook employees to stage a virtual walkout in protest, and Zuckerberg said late Friday that Facebook would “review” its policies on speech that encourages violence.

A spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative reiterated in an email to The Verge that CZI is separate from Facebook, with separate offices, and a separate mission. “We are grateful for our staff, partners, and grantees in this work and we respect their right to voice their opinions, including on Facebook policies,” the spokesperson said.

Published on June 07, 2020

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