Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Says Social Network Should not be “Censoring Politicians”

Facebook website.Commentary

Facebook website.

Last month Twitter stopped accepting political ads, and in the past, YouTube has taken down countless political ads, leaving many to look at Facebook, expecting CEO Mark Zuckerberg also to ban political ads from his site. In an interview on CBS This Morning, Zuckerberg reiterated his refusal to remove political ads from Facebook- even if the ads contained false information.

Political Ads

In recent months Facebook ads have become an object of scrutiny, specifically their policy on political ads which allows politicians to lie in their ads. In November Facebook’s to,p marketers insisted that it was up to voters to decide what messages were true and stated that they had no plans to change.

“That’s not a role that Facebook should be playing and interfering with democracy,” [1] said Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook. However, Facebook users argue that not doing anything allows the political campaign to do that very thing.

In September, Facebook allowed a controversial ad run by President Trump remains published even though it made false claims. Since then, Democrats have been pressing Facebook on the matter, publishing their own false ads to point out the pitfalls of the social platform. One of the most prominent reasons that Facebook isn’t touching political ads is because, with such a large platform, it would struggle to effectively do so. Everson pointed out a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that had been posted earlier in the year which depicted Pelosi looking drunk. Despite the video being fake, Facebook refused to take it down, allowing it to be viewed by millions.

“If you’re going to take the Pelosi video down, then why not take down the millions of videos that have been doctored about Trump, about Bush, about Obama, about celebrities? We haven’t,” Everson said in an interview.

Make Your Own Decision

On December 2, Zuckerberg reiterated his stance on political ads, saying that people should make their own decisions. “What I believe is that in a democracy it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their open judgments,” he said. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.” [2]

In the midst of disagreements of his stance, many have taken to questioning Zuckerberg’s dinner with President Trump which happened early in November, and whether Trump lobbied against him banning political ads. “No … I think some of the stuff that people talk about or think is discussed in these discussions are not really how that works,” Zuckerberg replied.

“This is clearly a very complex issue, and a lot of people have a lot of different opinions,” Zuckerberg said. “At the end of the day, I just think that in a democracy that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. … I think that people should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians.”


Notes:

  1. ^Stewart, Emily. “Facebook’s political ads policy: The company has no good excuses.” Vox, 18 Nov. 2019, www.vox.com/recode/2019/11/18/20970942/facebook-political-ads-policy-carolyn-everson-code-media. (go back↩)
  2. ^Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says the social network should not be ‘censoring politicians’.” USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2019/12/02/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-should-not-censor-politicians-ads/4350547002. (go back↩)

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