Ahead of President Donald Trump’s signature on an executive order to weaken the legal immunity social media companies enjoy when it comes to censorship, Mark Zuckerberg slammed the fact-checking of political speech.
The Facebook creator and CEO called such speech “one of the most sensitive parts in a democracy.”
“People should be able to see what politicians say,” the Facebook founder told CNBC “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin in an interview that aired Thursday morning.
Zuckerberg’s comments followed Twitter’s controversial decision to place a fact-check label on a tweet of President Trump’s that claimed mail-in ballots can result in voter fraud. Twitter attached links to stories from The Washington Post and CNN that debated the claim.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
We also wanted to provide additional context and conversation with regard to voter fraud and mail-in ballots. We have a range of remediations, and in some cases we add labels that link to more context. https://t.co/k6OkjNXEAm
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) May 28, 2020
The social media giant, however, has refused to apply the same treatment to a controversial tweet by the president that called for MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough to be investigated for the death of staffer Lori Klausutis. Her husband, Timothy Klausutis, begged CEO Jack Dorsey to remove tweets that he said repeated a “debunked falsehood” and a “vicious lie.”
The widower of Lori Klausutis asked Twitter to remove President Trump's false tweets about her death.
Twitter said on Tuesday that it would not. https://t.co/4cOgLxGEwc
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 26, 2020
For his part, Zuckerberg told Sorkin that Facebook does use independent fact-checkers to review content on the platform, but said that their duty is to “really catch the worst of the worst stuff.”
“The point of that program isn’t to try to parse words on if something’s slightly true or false,” he said. “In terms of political speech, again, I think you want to give broad deference to the political process and political speech.”
Facebook does not allow users to post content that can cause violence or harm to themselves, and what the platform deems “misinformation” is not allowed when it can lead to harm or voter suppression. The platform has also made a practice of censoring or limiting speech regarding vaccine hesitancy and rallies to end coronavirus-related lockdowns.
“There are clear lines that map to specific harms and damage that can be done where we take down the content, but overall, including compared to some of the other companies, we try to be more on the side of giving people a voice and free expression,” Zuckerberg said.
In October, Facebook caused a stir when it announced that it would allow politicians to run ads on the site, even if they carry misinformation, but Zuckerberg said there are “clear lines” that come into play when it comes to taking down content. Earlier this year, billionaire globalist George Soros called for Zuckerberg to be removed from his own company, claiming that the political ad policy would ensure Trump’s reelection.
Zuckerberg also appeared on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing” with Dana Perino to discuss Twitter’s move.
“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Perino.
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he added. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
“I have to understand what they actually would intend to do,” Zuckerberg said of Trump’s executive order. “But in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there.”
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