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Zuckerberg cites a post from India as a clear-cut example of ‘incitement to violence’

Kapil mishra, hate speech, tweet

For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, while posts from US President Donald Trump may not pose a “100 per cent clear-cut of a decision”, posts from India where “someone” said “‘Hey, if the police don’t take care of this, our supporters will get in there and clear the streets’” are a clear cut case of incitement of violence and have been taken down. This was revealed in a transcript of a meeting that Zuckerberg held with 25,000 employees on June 2. Recode published the transcript of the meeting.

Zuckerberg was referring to BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s comments during the Delhi riots, though he didn’t mention him by name. Mishra had tweeted on February 23, “I give Delhi Police a three-day ultimatum to clear the streets of Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh. After that, don’t explain anything to us, we will not listen. Only three days” and tagged Delhi Police in the tweet. Although the original tweet has been taken down (it’s unclear whether by the government, as Twitter hasn’t disclosed any request for that particular tweet), an archived copy is available here. We couldn’t find the concurrent Facebook posts.

The furore against Zuckerberg and Facebook erupted when Zuckerberg refused to take down or add an addendum to Trump’s posts that said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, that sought to threaten people protesting against racism after the Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, an African American man, as they arrested him. Twitter had placed a public interest notice on the same tweet by Trump and limited its spread by disabling “Like” and “Retweet” (without comment) on the tweet, and fact checked Trump on his tweet about mail-in ballots in California. But Zuckerberg stood his ground, even as multiple Facebook employees resigned in protest and staged the company’s first walkout, albeit a virtual one, to make their voices heard.

But in the June 2 meeting, Zuckerberg maintained that Trump’s posts eventually did not violate Facebook’s content policies. He said that Trump’s posts could be read in three ways — “discussion of state use of force” which Facebook allows as “states are legally allowed to use force”, “a prediction of violence in the future” which is also allowed on Facebook, and third, “incitement to violence” which a direct call for violence and warrants a takedown. As per Facebook’s analysis, Trump’s post fell in the first reading, while Mishra’s in the third.

Apart from the example for India, Zuckerberg cited the case of a legislator from Hong Kong “who called for the police to come in and clear out and kill the protesters to restore order in society”. This post was taken down. It is not clear how Trump’s post is different.

Zuckerberg further said that the comment “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” “has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supports to take justice into their own hands”. Instead of talking to “all the different folks” that he talked to, he could just read one article about the racist history of the phrase and its use by segregationists by NPR, or by Washington Post, or Vox.

We have reached out to Facebook for more information about the post Zuckerberg was referring to, and to Twitter for information about Mishra’s tweet.

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