Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos said Tuesday that Twitter’s policy to flag some of President Donald Trump’s posts was a smart decision but that it’s impossible to keep his posts off of any social media site.
“There’s actually a bigger problem here, which is you can’t deplatform the President of the United States,” Stamos said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.” “Everything he says is newsworthy, and so this is a struggle that the social media companies are dealing with, but also the traditional media.”
Zuckerberg said on May 29 a post by President Trump that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” did not violate the company’s policies. Twitter, conversely, warned users the post had “violent rhetoric.”
Twitter has taken a more aggressive stance toward Trump’s posts in recent weeks. It added a fact-check notice to a tweet about mail-in voting and a public interest notice on a post about protests in Minneapolis for “glorifying violence.” After the first fact-check, Trump signed an executive order that took aim at a law that protects web platforms and publishers from liability for what their users post.
Twitter’s actions have drawn attention to Facebook’s more passive stance. Civil rights leaders called CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation of the decision to leave Trump’s post about the Minneapolis protests unaltered as “incomprehensible.”
On Monday, hundreds of employees participated in a virtual walkout to protest the company’s decisions related to Trump.
Stamos, who is now the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, said Facebook flags some content but that Twitter’s approach is better.
“You see Trump being criticized for clearing people out from Lafayette Park, which I think is a totally appropriate criticism, but then the TV channels play that clip over and over again of the photo-op that he wanted to get,” Stamos said. “I think a lot of people are struggling with how do you allow speech and how do you report on things that are newsworthy without amplifying it. I think Twitter’s approach here is actually pretty appropriate.”
Shares of Twitter rose about 1% on Tuesday, but are down more than 5% since May 26 amid concern about regulation. Facebook’s stock is down less than 5% over that same time period.