On Wednesday, speaking to Dana Perino on Fox News’ “Daily Briefing,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it abundantly clear his company stood apart from Twitter when it came to judging posts on a social media site.
Discussing Twitter’s decision to fact-check two of President Trump’s tweets and label them with warnings, Perino asked Zuckerberg if Twitter “made the wrong decision.”
Zuckerberg stated Facebook had “a different policy than Twitter on this,” adding, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be — especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
The Hill noted, “Zuckerberg has previously defended Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to post political ads with misleading or false claims on its platform.”
Last October 30, Zuckerberg asserted, “In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news.” He issued a statement on Facebook that read, in part:
I believe strongly — and I believe that history supports — that free expression has been important for driving progress and building more inclusive societies around the world, that at times of social tension there has often been urge to pull back on free expression, and that we will be best served over the long term by resisting this urge and defending free expression.
Today is certainly a historical moment of social tension, and I view an important role of our company as defending free expression.
Now this has never been absolute and of course we take our responsibility to prevent harm very seriously too. I think we invest more in getting harmful content off our services than any other company in the world. Those who follow us closely know that we have more than 35,000 people working on safety and security, and that our budget for this work is billions of dollars a year — more than the whole revenue of our company at the time of our IPO earlier this decade. And we’re going to keep on investing more here. But while we work hard to remove content that can cause real danger, I think we also need to be careful about adopting more and more rules that restrict the way that people can speak and what they can say.
Right now, the content debate is about political ads. Should we block political ads with false statements? Should we block all political ads? Google, YouTube and most internet platforms run these same ads, most cable networks run these same ads, and of course national broadcasters are required by law to run them by FCC regulations. I think there are good reasons for this. In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news. And although I’ve considered whether we should not carry these ads in the past, and I’ll continue to do so, on balance so far I’ve thought we should continue.
Ads can be an important part of voice — especially for candidates and advocacy groups the media might not otherwise cover so they can get their message into debates. And it’s hard to define where to draw the line. Would we really block ads for important political issues like climate change or women’s empowerment? Instead, I believe the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Ads on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else. We have a political ads archive so anyone can scrutinize every ad that’s run — you can see every message, who saw it, how much was spent — something that no TV or print media does.
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