One day after President Trump’s statement calling for schools to re-open was censored by Facebook, Facebook employees reportedly discussed potential ways that he could be censored in the future.
According to BuzzFeed News, Facebook employees “debated the merits of censoring a sitting president’s potentially false statements” about election results on Facebook’s internal message boards before an all-hands meeting on Thursday.
One person reportedly noted: “It would be a really troubling policy to apply globally.”
BuzzFeed News added that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees during a company-wide meeting on Thursday that “the increased use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic will likely lead to a situation where election results will not be available ‘for days’ or ‘for weeks'” and that Facebook may label the posts of political figures and commentators who “attempt to try to call an election early” with a message stating the results are not yet final.
Zuckerberg also reportedly discussed what the company would do if Trump declared the election results invalid and confirmed that the company is “thinking through what policy may be appropriate here.”
The discussions are reflective of Big Tech’s rapidly escalating censorship against the President over the last three months and during an election year.
Since Twitter fact-checked President Trump on May 26, which was the first time one of his statements had been editorialized by a major social media platform, several of his other posts have been subject to fact-checks and censorship.
While these are currently just discussions among Facebook employees and Zuckerberg about potential policies, the current censorship of Trump’s statements was preceded by similar discussions where Big Tech employees discussed when and if the President would be censored long before the censorship was deployed.
In March 2019, more than a year before Twitter had censored Trump for the first time, Twitter’s Lead of Trust and Safety, Legal, and Public Policy, Vijaya Gadde, was asked about Trump and whether he has “total immunity” on the platform.
Gadde said at the time that Twitter was working on a warning label that can be applied to tweets and also discussed requiring users to click through to view tweets.
Now, these censorship tools that Gadde was discussing have become a reality and been deployed against Trump’s tweets multiple times.
What sets these recent Facebook discussions apart from Gadde’s March 2019 statements is that when Gadde made her comments, the act of censoring Trump was unprecedented.
Facebook employees are discussing the idea when the precedent of censoring Trump has been established and it’s happening so often, it’s almost become normalized.