Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon doesn’t merit a suspension despite urging the beheadings of two high-ranking government employees, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Last week, the world’s largest social network removed two videos from Bannon’s official page after he said that the heads of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be displayed on pikes at the White House “as a warning to federal bureaucrats.” Facebook said the videos broke its rules against inciting violence.
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Zuckerberg, however, said Bannon hadn’t broken the rules enough times to be suspended.
“We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely,” Zuckerberg told employees, according to Reuters, which heard a recording of the internal meeting. “While the offenses here, I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line.”
Facebook’s relatively restrained action contrasted with Twitter’s response to the video. Twitter permanently suspended the account @WarRoomPandemic for violating its policy against glorifying violence. YouTube, which has a three-strikes policy, took down Bannon’s video for violating its rules against inciting violence and issued a strike against his account.
The decision not to suspend Bannon’s Facebook account has sparked criticism from Democrats, who say the social network doesn’t do enough to combat hate speech and misinformation. Zuckerberg will face some of those, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris next week when he’s scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“If calling for the beheading of your political enemies isn’t in your [company’s] policy to [suspend] an account, you should probably re-evaluate your policies?,” Megan Clasen, a media advisor for President-elect Joe Biden, tweeted on Thursday.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook’s policy against inciting violence states the company “will remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.” It doesn’t specify when it would disable an account versus just removing the content that calls for violence.
Zuckerberg, who has not made any public comments about Biden’s presidential win, also told employees that the Democrat “is going to be our next president,” BuzzFeed News reported. The social network has been labeling false claims about voter fraud, noting that media outlets projected Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
“I believe the outcome of the election is now clear and Joe Biden is going to be our next president,” Zuckerberg said in a recording of an employee meeting obtained by BuzzFeed News. “It’s important that people have confidence that the election was fundamentally fair, and that goes for the tens of millions of people that voted for Trump.”