Zuckerberg faced NY congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez in an intense round of questioning as he appeared before the House Financial Services Committee. She grilled him with specific questions about fact checking political advertisements on Facebook; the site’s policy has come under fire from others as well, namely 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Ocasio-Cortez said, “Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal? I mean, if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here.”
“Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal? I mean, if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here.”-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to Mark Zuckerberg
But Zuckerberg found it difficult to come up with a precise answer. “I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head… I think, probably.”
Facebook confirmed in early October that such ads were allowed to run and admitted that usually those very ads would NOT be subject to fact-checking.
According to Facebook’s policy, “Posts and ads from politicians are generally not subjected to fact-checking… In evaluating when this applies we ask our fact-checking partners to look at politicians at every level.”
It’s not surprising to find President Donald Trump amid a controversy about misleading and false ads- he reportedly spent $1.6 million on Facebook advertising with nonsensical ads about former Vice President Joe Biden and the whistleblower scandal.
One of Trump’s ads was removed by Facebook, but only because it showed Biden saying the words “son of a bitch” and that goes against the sites policy on profanity.
Ocasio-Cortez asked, “So you won’t take down lies, or you will take down lies? I think that’s a pretty simple yes or no. I’m not talking about spin — I’m talking about actual disinformation.”
But Zuckerberg said, “This is a democracy… I believe people should be able to see for themselves what politicians they may or may not have voted for are saying and judge their character for themselves.”
Zuckerberg said that the site would remove any posts “calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm or voter or census suppression.”
Another look at Facebook policy says the following: “There will be some instances where a false or partly false rating from our fact-checking partners will affect politicians… When a politician shares a specific piece of content — i.e., a link to an article, video or photo created by someone else that has been previously debunked on Facebook — we will demote that content, display a warning and reject its inclusion in ads.”
Ocasio-Cortez also asked about the social media site’s relationship with Check Your Fact, a subsidiary of The Daily Caller, which has ties to white nationalists. Facebook uses Check Your Fact to fact-check content on the site.
Zuckerberg tried to dodge that question and maintained that Facebook worked with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, which he said had “a rigorous standard as to who they allow as a fact-checker.”