Facebook’s Zuckerberg grilled by AOC on fact-checking policy for political AdsOctober 24, 2019
The CEO and Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has been questioned on his company’s new fact-checking policy for political advertisements. The questions came from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, on Wednesday, during a hearing on the matter. The company has announced that it will no longer be fact-checking advertisements to promote free political speech. This means that campaigns will be able to spread wrong information freely on Facebook.
The hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Zukerberg was quoted saying that the company’s policy was to remove posts which included violent threats and suppression of voter turnout from all people, including politicians. However, this did not seem consistent for false facts being posted in the name of political candidates.
In a pointed question, Ocasio-Cortez asked, “Could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?” to which Zuckerberg did not have a distinct answer. His answers were confusing and seemed to have been taken lightly. Ocasio-Cortez asked Zuckerberg if he saw the issue with this or not, to which he said, “Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad. And I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad.” But he said it wasn’t Facebook’s role “to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.”
Then the representative asked him again if this meant he would take the lies down or not, and he answered with saying that in a democratic setup, people must be able to see the true worth of a politician with their own eyes and then decide who to vote for. The Committee hearing was originally set up to question the Facebook cryptocurrency ‘Libra’.
He was also questioned by Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill when he was not able to confirm whether hate speech by a candidate running for office could be removed from Facebook. This was in reference to the Nazi Party member who won a Republican primary election in 2018.
On the 9th of October, Facebook said that a Trump ad stating lies about Joe Biden would not be removed. On the 19th of September, Zuckerberg had a secret meeting with Trump at the White House. The policy change came on the 24th of September. It was decided that a speech would only be edited or removed if it harmed people.
The Trump campaign has spent over $5 million on Facebook ads in the last three months,
Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized Facebook when she wrote a deliberately false ad on the social network to make a point. Zuckerberg considers a Warren administration a threat to his empire as was heard in a July meeting. The company removed all policy-oriented paid ads by the Warren campaign that asked for the breaking up of monopoly tech companies. They were quick to restore the ads after some complaints. Facebook even admitted to giving people access to a large amount of data to allow researchers to flag off questionable content.