Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly suggested to President Donald Trump, in a roundabout fashion, that perhaps the poster-in-chief could tone it down a little. For him? Pretty please?
Axios reports that two sources familiar with a phone call Trump made to the Facebook CEO on Friday said that Zuckerberg did not make any specific requests of the president, but conveyed “concerns” about his “tone and rhetoric,” expressed disagreement with recent sentiments, and told the president that his choice of words “put Facebook in a difficult position.”
The latter is likely a reference to the fact that Facebook has faced increased pressure to moderate the president’s statements on the platform, which regularly contain outright lies, misinformation, and inflammatory rhetoric.
Now, as protests against police brutality have erupted in major cities across the U.S., Trump’s tone has stepped up accordingly. On Thursday night he posted a tweet containing the quote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, and a Saturday tweetstorm included the suggestion that mayors and governors should crack down on protests using “the unlimited power of our Military”.
Twitter finally took action on a few of Trump’s tweets. One was flagged for containing misleading information about mail-in ballots, the other was hidden from Trump’s timeline for glorifying violence.
Zuckerberg told Fox News last week that private companies should not be an “arbiter of truth,” even though amid a worldwide pandemic, Facebook has in fact taken actions to ensure inaccurate information about coronavirus and related public health issues are countered with facts. But Twitter’s escalation, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s accompanying statements addressing Zuckerberg’s comments, have put further pressure on Facebook and Zuckerberg to not let the president’s false or incendiary posts stand unchecked.
Both social media giants are in the White House’s crosshairs ahead of the November election, with Trump signing a somewhat toothless executive order on May 28 meant to intimidate them into letting him share whatever he wants.