'History will not judge us kindly': Facebook internal messages show employees fuming on Jan. 6 over company's role in Capitol riot
Facebook employees fumed with anger and regret on an internal messaging system on Jan. 6, as they blamed the company for contributing to the Capitol insurrection.
"This is not a new problem," one employee wrote on Facebook's Workplace messaging system, according to a new report from the Washington Post. "We have been watching this behavior from politicians like Trump, and the — at best — wishy washy actions of company leadership, for years now. We have been reading the [farewell] posts from trusted, experienced and loved colleagues who write that they simply cannot conscience working for a company that does not do more to mitigate the negative effects on its platform."
Another employee wrote bitterly on Workplace: "Never forget the day Trump rode down the escalator in 2015, called for a ban on Muslims entering the US, [and] we determined that it violated our policies, and yet we explicitly overrode the policy and didn't take the video down. There is a straight line that can be drawn from that day to today, one of the darkest days in the history of democracy and self-governance. Would it have made a difference in the end? We can never know, but history will not judge us kindly."
A third employee recalled the anger in June 2020, after Black Lives Matter protesters had been forcibly cleared from a park next to the White House before Trump walked through for a photo opportunity during which he denounced the demonstrations, the Post reports.
"Employees have been crying out for months to start treating high-level political figures the same way we treat each other on the platform. That's all we're asking for," the employee wrote. "Last we spoke, innocent protesters were tear-gassed under the orders of a political figure whose message was amplified. Today, a coup was attempted against the United States. I hope circumstances aren't even more dire next time we speak."
The Post's report is based on thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents that were turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
"The SEC documents, which were provided to Congress in redacted form by Haugen's legal counsel and reviewed by The Post and other news organizations, suggest that Facebook moved too quickly after the election to lift measures that had helped suppress some election-related misinformation," the newspaper reports. "The rushed effort to restore them on Jan. 6 was not enough to stop the surge of hateful, violent posts, documents show. A company after-action report concluded that in the weeks after the election, Facebook did not act forcefully enough against the Stop the Steal movement that was pushed by Trump's political allies, even as its presence exploded across the platform."
On Friday, NBC4's Scott MacFarlane, the lead reporter covering the prosecution of the rioters in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, reported that a judge has said he wants the sentences for the Capitol defendants to "hurt."
"Today it was sentencing for Lori and Thomas Vinson of Kentucky," said MacFarlane in a Twitter update. "Both pleaded guilty to the lowest level of misdemeanors from January 6th. Unlawful picketing and parading. Both asked for leniency, both expressed remorse, and they got some leniency from the judge. Five years probation, but it's what the judge said. And it was the other thing he did that was so striking."
"Federal judge Reggie Walton really leaned in while issuing his sentence, saying the risk is there not being enough deterrence coming from the January 6th cases," said MacFarlane. "Saying, 'anybody gullible enough to fall for the election lies that preceded the insurrection could be gullible enough to do it again.' And he said, 'what if Democrats do this next time around if they lose?' He says 'We're dividing the nation and ripping the heart out of our country.' And then he did something different. He issued $5,000 fines against the Vinsons, saying prosecutors hadn't been doing enough, or asking enough, to get financial penalties against January 6th defendants. He says, 'the sentences need to hurt.'"
Lori Vinson, prior to begging for forgiveness, boasted on Facebook that "I am not sorry" for storming the Capitol and would "do it again tomorrow." Thomas Vinson, who claims to have witnessed other Capitol attackers try to break into the office of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has also been asked to testify before the House select committee investigating the insurrection about what he witnessed.
Former president Donald Trump and his GOP supporters are hoping to rely on a tactic that's common in Russia to return him to the White House in 2024, according to one prominent expert on authoritarianism.
"As someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is the 'administrative resource,'" author and Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder told MSNBC on Friday. "What the administrative resource means in Russian is that sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out. What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing, the administrative resource."
Snyder then explained how this mechanism works and how Trump and Republicans might apply it during the next election.
"Historically speaking, what we know about a 'big lie' is that because of its very scale, it's not about truth or not truth; it's about living in a kind of alternative reality," Snyder added. "What we're looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this Big Lie, actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimizes their cheating. In other words, if you talk about the Big Lie now, you're basically promising to cheat the next time around, and that's very concerning."
He concluded by saying that this is a clear and present danger, not merely a theoretical one.
"The scenario for 2024 for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election," Snyder said. "I don't think it's something that could happen. I think it's something that's under way, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?"
Timothy Synder on MSNBC www.youtube.com
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