Mark Zuckerberg has conceded in a meeting with employees that Facebook erred in failing to remove a militia group's "call to arms" urging followers to engage in violence amid the unrest in Wisconsin after the shooting of a black man.
"It was largely an operational mistake," the Facebook CEO said regarding Facebook's inaction on removing the "Kenosha Guard" group on the platform, even after multiple users had reported it for violations, until after two people were killed in the Wisconsin city.
The CEO made the comments in a companywide meeting on Thursday. Zuckerberg posted video from the meeting on Friday after his remarks - and an angry backlash among Facebook employees about the situation - were reported by BuzzFeed News.
Law enforcement officials said two protesters in Kenosha, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, were shot and killed on August 25 by a 17-year-old Illinois boy, who had travelled to the city intending to engage in violence.
Protests erupted in Kenosha after video showed a Kenosha police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a black man, seven times in the back in front of his children on August 23.
Zuckerberg told employees that Facebook had not discovered any evidence that the teenager had a connection to the now-removed Kenosha Guard page.
In the town hall meeting with employees, Zuckerberg said the team that enforces Facebook's policy against dangerous organisations "is trained to look for symbolism and innuendo" and that the "contractors and reviewers who the initial complaints [about the Kenosha Guard] were funneled to didn't pick this up.
On second review, doing it more sensitively, the team responsible for dangerous organisations recognised that this violated the policies and we took it down."
Zuckerberg added, "We're going to continue to enforce our policies and continue evolving the policies to be able to identify more potential dangerous organisations and improve our execution in order to keep on getting ahead of this."
According to the BuzzFeed News report, several Facebook employees were sharply critical of how the company handled not only the Kenosha Guard group but its failure to ban other dangerous groups.
In June, hundreds of staffers staged a virtual walkout over Facebook's failure to take action against Donald Trump's posts suggesting that government forces would fire on rioting crowds in Minnesota, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Facebook, faced with an advertiser boycott aimed at pressuring the company to improve its policing of hate speech, has announced crackdowns in recent weeks on various fringe groups.