Warren Says Facebook is Helping Trump Spread Lies and Misinformation

Joanna Estrada
October 20, 2019

Bernice King, the only surviving daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., called out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for defending his company from criticism by invoking the slain civil rights leader during a recent speech.

"My belief is that in a democracy I don't think that we want private companies censoring politicians in the news", Zuckerberg said in an interview with Fox News' Dana Perino, set to air Friday.

Her comments come after Zuckerberg addressed an audience at Georgetown University on Thursday, where he said banning political adverts on the platform was considered, but ultimately the company chose to reject the idea.

Standing in a hall at Georgetown University where heads of state have delivered key speeches, the Facebook CEO said the company should stand strong in a decades-long struggle over how society values free speech, with dire consequences for the company's users if it does not.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has become one of the most aggressive critics of Zuckerberg on the 2020 campaign trail, tweeted that the speech showed "how unprepared Facebook is to handle the 2020 election". "The Supreme Court case I mentioned earlier that gave us our current broad speech rights, New York Times vs Sullivan, was actually about an ad with misinformation, supporting Martin Luther King Jr. and criticizing an Alabama police department". Facebook built relationships with independent fact-checkers, so they weren't the sole deciders of what was or wasn't a lie. I'd like to help Facebook better understand the challenges #MLK faced from disinformation campaigns launched by politicians.

Focusing on the long arc of history marks a major shift in strategy for the company that was once known for moving fast and breaking things. Trump isn't just posting a lie on his own page for his own followers. Ads that TV stations won't even run. "Under the guise of protecting voice and free expression, Facebook, as in prior elections, is giving Trump and the right-wing a free pass to spread lies, hate and misinformation on the platform". "They might do it again-and profit off of it".

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently called on Twitter to suspend Trump from the service.

Zuckerberg maintains, however, that although it may be easy to remove one or two obviously misleading or untruthful political advertisements, it would be impossible to monitor all political adverts at scale. "Banning political ads favors incumbents and whoever the media covers".

"I don't think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true", Zuckerberg said.

Priti Patel, along with USA attorney general William Barr, acting U.S. head of homeland security Kevin McAleenan and Australian minister for home affairs Peter Dutton, wrote to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month, calling on the firm to work with governments to make sure any changes would not prevent police and other official bodies from investigating crime.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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