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Broadband Roundup: Zuckerberg Defends Trump Stance, Surveillance of Protests, Reddit and Racism

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Mark Zuckerberg in April 2018 by Anthony Quintano used with permission

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision to leave intact a post from President Donald Trump, which responded to widespread protests by saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” the New York Times reported.

Zuckerberg’s decision comes after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey chose to disable post engagement when Trump tweeted the same message.

On Monday, Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over concerns surrounding the president’s behavior and Zuckerberg’s decision, claiming that he had failed to act on a credible threat of violence.

However, in a tense Monday meeting, Zuckerberg defended his decision and said that he expressed his concerns to President Trump.

“I used that opportunity to make him know I felt this post was inflammatory and harmful, and let him know where we stood on it,” he said.

Since the controversial post, at least two Facebook software engineers have publicly quit, citing disagreement with Zuckerberg’s decision.

Protest surveillance

A slippery slope of high-tech surveillance may follow President Trump’s decision to treat antifa protesters as domestic terrorists, Axios reported.

Trump has laid dozens of reports of ruthless violence at antifa’s feet, but as antifa is a broad term for militant anti-fascism groups rather than a single unified organization, the designation may be challenging to enforce legally.

Furthermore, there currently exists no official federal designation for domestic terrorism organization.

Police across the country employ several tactics to determine the locations of criminals, including phone location data and facial recognition technology. While such technologies require warrants, it could be easy for officers to obtain them from a sympathetic judge.

The Trump administration has already ramped up efforts to surveil terrorists digitally, so it is not difficult to imagine a heightened interest in monitoring protestors in opposition to his policies.

Former Reddit CEO condemns racism on the platform

Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao tweeted criticism of what she called an amplification of some of the platform’s “hate, racism, and violence,” CNET reported.

The company tweeted an open letter from CEO Steve Huffman to his employees, which said that “while we have work to do to fight [racism] on our platform, our values are clear.”

However, Pao said that the website’s policies toward discrimination and violence are insufficient and applied inconsistently.

“You don’t get to say BLM when Reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long,” she said.

Pao also referred to r/The_Donald, a Reddit forum for Trump supporters. Repeated incidents of racist and antisemitic content have made the page one of the site’s most controversial, and although Reddit blocked the forum from appearing on the platform’s front page, Pao said they still have work to do.

“You should have shut down the_donald…. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet,” she said.

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