A Facebook software engineer publicly resigned in a LinkedIn note Monday over the company’s handling of President Trump's calls for violence on Facebook. The resignation letter has since gone viral on LinkedIn, with more than 39,000 reactions.
The news is part of a shift at Facebook. Traditionally, employees have voiced their concerns about Mark Zuckerberg's leadership internally, but they have rarely broadcast those views publicly. That has changed this week, with the public resignation, a "virtual walkout," and outspoken social media posts from current and recently-departed Facebook employees.
"I'm resigning from my job at Facebook," Timothy J. Aveni, a software engineer at the company, wrote on his own Facebook page on Monday. In his LinkedIn post, Aveni said that his role at Facebook was "battling the spread of misinformation."
"Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act on increasingly dangerous rhetoric. Since Friday, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand and process the decision not to remove the racist, violent post Trump made Thursday night, but Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history," Aveni's Facebook post continues. "#blacklivesmatter."
Do you work at Facebook and are dissatisfied with the company's handling of Trump's posts? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work computer or phone, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on firstname.lastname@example.org, or email email@example.com.
Aveni is referring to Trump's post in which the President repeated a phrase from Walter Headley, a white Miami police chief who said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" about crushing protests in 1967. Trump also posted the message to his Twitter account; in response, Twitter put the tweet behind a dialogue box which says the tweet violates Twitter's policies for glorifying violence.
Aveni's resignation comes a day after employees also staged a virtual walk-out to protest the lack of action from Facebook, and while multiple Facebook employees have tweeted their dissatisfaction with Zuckerberg over his refusal to act on Trump's posts. They also, of course, come during nationwide protests over police killings.
Zuckerberg has maintained that the post on Facebook should stay up. In his own post, Zuckerberg wrote, "I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open."
In another public departure, engineering manager Own Anderson tweeted on Monday, "I am proud to announce that as of the end of today, I am no longer a Facebook employee." Anderson added in a follow-up tweet that their leaving of the company had been planned for some time, so it may not have been explicitly linked to Facebook's recent activity. But he added, "after last week, I am happy to no long[er] support policies and values I vehemently disagree with."
Aveni also added in his message on LinkedIn, "I cannot stand by Facebook’s continued refusal to act on the president’s bigoted messages aimed at radicalizing the American public. I’m scared for my country, and I’m watching my company do nothing to challenge the increasingly dangerous status quo." He wrote that his last day will be on June 12.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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