- Facebook attempted to prevent employees from discussing whether the company should ban Trump from the platform after he incited protests at the US Capitol on Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reported.
- Less than an hour after employees began discussing the idea on internal messaging boards, Facebook — without explanation — blocked them from commenting on the posts, according to BuzzFeed News.
- Facebook has increasingly come under fire for allowing violent extremists to organize openly on its platform, and employees have become more vocal in their opposition, particularly around its handling of Trump's posts.
- Facebook has historically touted its belief in free speech on its platform as well as internally, but has recently started cracking down more aggressively on both fronts.
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As President Donald Trump's supporters were waging a violent insurrection on the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Wednesday, Trump took to social media to continue spewing baseless claims of election fraud that had incited his supporters in the first place.
Twitter removed the videos almost immediately, and shortly after that, banned Trump's account for 24 hours.
But as Facebook weighed its own response, it was also busy censoring employees who were discussing internally whether the company should ban Trump from their platform permanently, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday evening.
Within an hour of employees posting to the messaging boards, Facebook administrators — without explanation —blocked comments on at least three threads discussing possibly kicking Trump off the platform, according to BuzzFeed News.
Facebook employees also slammed what they said was a lack of speed and aggressiveness in dealing with the extreme situation in Washington, according to BuzzFeed News. (CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a brief response condemning the violence around four hours after pro-Trump protesters first stormed the Capitol building).
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on this story, but spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told BuzzFeed News that Facebook's "employees are actively discussing today's horrible events internally."
Zuckerberg and Facebook have long touted the social network as a bastion of free speech, and the company has historically allowed its tens of thousands of employees to openly discuss even contentious political topics in its internal messaging boards.
But over the past few years, Facebook has faced increasing criticism — externally as well as internally — for failing to crack down on disinformation and hate speech, both of which have grown substantially and continue to reach large audiences.
That pressure came to a head inside Facebook last summer after the death of George Floyd. The company refused to take action against a post by Trump calling for violence against anti-police-brutality protesters, and just months later, refused to enforce its policies against militias despite receiving warnings that extremists in Kenosha, Wisconsin, planned to use violence against peaceful protesters.
Over the summer, as Facebook employees quit in protest and tension over the company's approach to the problem of violent extremism grew, the company tightened its moderation of internal messaging boards, CNBC reported.
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