Facebook employees blast Zuckerberg's policy not to fact-check politicians: 'Misinformation affects us all'

The Week 1 month ago

Facebook employees are giving the company's political advertising policies a dislike.

In a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, more than 250 Facebook employees blast the platform's policy not to remove ads from politicians that contain false claims, which Zuckerberg defended in testimony before Congress last week. Facebook reiterated in a statement after his House Financial Services Committee hearing, "People should decide what is credible, not tech companies."

But these Facebook employees disagree, in the letter saying they "strongly object to this policy as it stands," as it "doesn't protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy," The New York Times reports.

The employees also say that these policies "are a threat to what [Facebook] stands for," having the potential to "increase distrust in our platform" and suggest "we are okay profiting from deliberate misinformation campaigns."

The letter concludes with numerous suggestions, including holding ads from politicians "to the same standard as other ads," using "stronger visual design treatment" for them, and applying a limit to the amount of spending that can come from one politician and PAC combined. At the very least, the employees suggest Facebook make it clearer to users "that political ads are exempt from the fact-checking that other ads go through."

A Facebook spokesperson in response to the letter told the Times that "we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts," adding that the company remains "committed to not censoring political speech" but will "continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads."

This comes after Zuckerberg received a grilling on this issue from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who asked the Facebook boss whether she could, for example, buy an ad falsely claiming Republican lawmakers voted for the Green New Deal. "I think probably," Zuckerberg responded.

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