The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” the researchers' goal of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improving childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.
The researchers' mission "is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook
has been taking, so we're encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history as we've said in the letter,” said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized the letter.
The other organisers are Martin Kampmann of the University of California-San Francisco and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah.
All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The initiative is run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
They said the letter had more than 160 signatories. Shepherd said about 10 per cent are employees of Chan Zuckerberg foundations.
The letter objects specifically to Zuckerberg's decision not to at least flag as a violation of Facebook's community standards Trump's post that stated “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” after unrest in Minneapolis over the videotaped killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer. The letter's authors called the post “a clear statement of inciting violence.” Twitter had both flagged and demoted a Trump tweet using the same language.
The Associated Press emailed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative press office for comment. It did not immediately respond.