Facebook fires employee who protested inaction on Trump posts

by Maruf Adedeji

Facebook has dismissed one of its staff who had questioned Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

The decision was taken after the employee had criticised the social media company for not taking action against recent inflammatory posts by US President Donald Trump.

Brandon Dail, a user interface engineer in Seattle, said in a tweet on Friday 12 June, 2020 that he was dismissed by Facebook for publicly faulting a colleague who had refused to include a statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement on developer documents he was publishing.

“Just to clarify here: I wasn’t explicitly let go for speaking against Facebook policies. I publicly called out another employee for a problematic political stance. I don’t doubt that violates Facebook’s respectful workplace policy,” Dail said in his tweet.

He later sent an offensive tweet on early Saturday 13 June 2020, explaining that he was not claiming he was unjustly terminated but he was “fed up with Facebook, the harm it’s doing, and the silence of those complicit including” himself.

Dail’s tweet followed a few other engineers’ tweeting objections against Zuckerberg’s handling of Trump’s posts targeting demonstrators protesting against systemic racial injustice in the country.

Dail previously wrote, in a tweet on Wednesday 3 June, 2020, that “intentionally not making a statement is already political”.

According to Dail’s tweet on Friday 12 June 2020, he said he stood by his earlier statement.

The staff reacted to Trump’s recent posts, especially the racially charged phrase in a post where he wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which was referring to demonstrations against racism and police brutality held after the May 25 killing of unarmed blackman George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Twitter hid Trump’s tweet from viewers, leaving them to choose whether to view or not because it “glorified violence”, according to the social media giant. Facebook chose to leave the post without any reaction.

Zuckerberg addressed employees in a meeting the same week in order to defend his decision on the contentious post. Dail tweeted during the meeting that it was “crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us”.

Facebook has confirmed Dail’s characterisation of his disengagement but did not give further details.

Dail also voiced his objections this week to the inactions of both Facebook and Twitter about Trump’s recent comment about the 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino who was severely injured by police in Buffalo, New York.

He particularly accused Facebook of “violating its anti-harassment rules”.

Several workplace activists and critics have been dismissed lately in relation to their public complaints.

Big companies like Alphabet’s Google and Amazon denied firing their staff for expressing their opinions publicly.

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