In 2015, Facebook executives investigated whether Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigration broke the company’s rules, according to a bombshell new report from the New York Times.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly asked COO Sheryl Sandberg and other senior execs whether his Facebook post on the matter violated the social network’s rules — which could have earned him a ban from the platform.
Afterwards, a group of executives, sometimes including Sheryl Sandberg, are said to have scrambled to figure out the answer. Ultimately, Trump was not banned from Facebook.
Zuckerberg is a vocal advocate of immigration reform.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once asked senior executives whether Donald Trump had broken any of the social network’s rules, according to a bombshell report from The New York Times — a move that could have resulted in Facebook banning the then-presidential candidate.
In 2015, Trump called for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, making a Facebook post to that effect. In response, Zuckerberg — a vocal advocate of immigration reform, who the Times reports was “appalled” by Trump’s remarks — reportedly asked top executives if the Facebook post had violated its terms of service.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, DC policy head Joel Kaplan, and then-head of communications Elliott Schrage —three very senior executives at the firm — then scrambled to investigate the matter, according to the report. Sandberg sat in on the video calls to discuss, reports the Times, but did not often speak. Zuckerberg reportedly did not appear at these meetings.
Kaplan warned that banning Trump, then a candidate for the highest office in the land, could be seen as a violation of free speech, and that it could also be cause for a conservative backlash.
The trio ultimately determined that Trump’s remarks didn’t break Facebook’s rules, says the report, and his account remained active.
“We were trying to make a decision based on all the legal and technical evidence before us,” Schrage, who left Facebook this summer, told the Times.
The incident highlights how Facebook executives were uncomfortable with how Trump used Facebook to amplify his often-controversial messaging — a concern shared by some others in Silicon Valley. There have been repeated calls over the last few years for Twitter, Trump’s social network of choice, to ban the president over alleged rule violations. But CEO Jack Dorsey has refused, arguing that the president’s tweets have inherent “newsworthiness.”
The detail was disclosed in an exhaustive report from The New York Times, which details how Facebook executives attempted to deflect criticism as the company’s scandals mounted over the last few year.
In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told Business Insider: “This has been a tough time at Facebook and our entire management team has been focused on tackling the issues we face. While these are hard problems we are working hard to ensure that people find our products useful and that we protect our community from bad actors.”
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