Two Facebook employees quit over handling of Trump posts

Two Facebook software engineers publicly quit the company on Tuesday, as internal dissent escalated over how the social network has handled posts from President Trump.

Timothy Aveni posted on LinkedIn that he was resigning because Facebook had not held Trump to its community standards. “Over and over he posts abhorrent, targeted messages that would get any other Facebook user suspended from the platform,” Aveni wrote.

Another engineer, Owen Anderson, wrote on Twitter that he was “proud to announce” he was resigning on Tuesday as he would “no longer support policies and values I vehemently disagree with.” Anderson said his departure was “in the works for a while.”

The public resignations follow a “virtual walkout” that many Facebook employees staged on Monday and also fall in the wake of critical messages a number of employees had posted on Twitter over the weekend about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s handling of Trump’s posts.

On Thursday Trump said on Facebook, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” referring to protests over the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis resident who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Trump also said that he would send in the National Guard to “get the job done right.”

Many people complained that the President’s posts encouraged violence and that Facebook should remove them. Twitter covered Trump’s identical posts on its service with a label warning that they were “glorifying violence.”

Zuckerberg on Friday said that he had decided against removing Trump’s post because he’d considered it a “warning about state action.” Unless a post causes “imminent risk of specific harms or dangers,” he said, Facebook sides with free expression.

The two resignations account for just a tiny fraction of Facebook’s 48,000 employees. But if the exodus grows, it could become a problem for the company, which has been beacon for new recruits.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune about the departure of the two employees.

The resignations are hardly the first examples of employees leaving big tech firms over policy issues. Prominent technologist Tim Bray quit Amazon last month over the firing of employee labor activists. In another instance, two years ago, about a dozen Google employees quit over the company’s assistance in a Pentagon artificial intelligence program.

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