Internal Facebook papers revealed the United States lit “on fire” during the days after controversial social media posts from former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2020. The reports of violent and hateful posts on the social media platform began pouring in on the night of 28th May last year, following the then-president Trump shared a warning on social media that looters in Minneapolis would be shot.
It had been around seventy-two hours since police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes until the forty-six-year-old Black American lost his breath and life. Protestors took over the largest city of Minnesota and then spread all over the streets of the country. However, it was not until after Trump posted words about Floyd’s death that the reports of hate speech and violence mounted instantly on Facebook and other social media platforms countrywide, an internal Facebook analysis of Trump’s Facebook post reveals.
On 28th May 2020, Trump wrote that these thugs are disgracing George Floyd’s memory on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and his administration won’t let it happen. Further, he added that any difficulty and security forces would assume control, but when looting starts on the streets, the shooting starts.
Leaked Facebook documents provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s social media posts ignited more anger in an already deeply divided country that was eventually lit “on fire” w/reports of hate speech and violence across the platform | #TheFacebookPapers https://t.co/nITiXVkD5f
— The Atlanta Voice (@theatlantavoice) October 27, 2021
Suspension of Trump from Facebook and Twitter
The administration of Facebook and Twitter suspended the personal accounts of the former president. Leaked Facebook pages provide a candid look at how social media posts of Trump erupted more anger in an already intensely divided nation that ultimately ignited on fire with reports of violence and hate speech across the social media platform. Automated and internal controls of Facebook, meant to catch posts that violate company rules, foreseen with approximately ninety percent certainty that the former president’s message broke the tech giant’s rules against inciting violence.
So far, the tech company did not take any action on the former president’s message. The following day protests, some of which turned violent, overwhelmed approximately every big and small city of the United States. Meanwhile, the social media rival of Facebook, Twitter, responded instantly at the time by covering the tweet of Donald Trump with a warning and also prohibiting users from sharing that tweet any further.
Internal discussions of Facebook revealed in leaks made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook worker Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions gathered by a group of news agencies such as The Associated Press. Moreover, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump was one of several high-profile users, including celebrities and politicians, exempted from standard enforcement company policies.
The Entire Country was ‘on fire’
The documents reveal that violence and hate speech reports had been only limited to the Minneapolis region after the death of Floyd. However, according to the 5th June 2020 memo, after then-president’s tweet on 28th May, situations really worsened all over the country. Furthermore, the internal analysis of the company shows a five-fold escalation in violence reports on Facebook, while complaints of hate speech boosted three times in the days following Trump’s post. Likewise, the reports of false news on Facebook doubled.
Reshares of the former president’s message produced a substantial amount of violent and hateful comments, many of which the platform worked to remove. Some of those Facebook comments included calls to f_ _k the white and started shooting these thugs. In the 5th June memo, the former Facebook employee wrote of the rise in violence and hate speech, and by 2nd June, they could see clearly that the whole country was basically ‘on fire.’
in addition, the internal findings of Facebook raise questions about public statements Mark Zuckerberg made last year as he defended his decision to don’t hit Trump’s post. On 29th May, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook looked thoroughly to see if the words of the former president broke any of the company policies and concluded that they didn’t.