Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Defends Policy Allowing Misleading or False Campaign Ads

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 22, 2016. (Albert Gea/Reuters)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the company’s policy of allowing political campaigns to run advertisements containing misleading or false information on their platform.

“People worry, and I worry deeply, too, about an erosion of truth,” Zuckerberg told the Washington Post. “At the same time, I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true.”

Facebook has come under fire for approving an ad for President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign accusing rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter of corruption, a charge which which he has vigorously disputed. In response, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) released her own Facebook ad saying Zuckerberg supports Trump for reelection.

“In general, in a democracy, I think that people should be able to hear for themselves what politicians are saying,” Zuckerberg continued.

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In a speech Thursday at Georgetown University, Zuckerberg also explained that Facebook and related platforms such as Instagram and Whatsapp don’t operate in China due to censorship concerns.

“While our services like WhatsApp are used by protestors and activists everywhere,” Zuckerberg said, “on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the U.S.”

Facebook has tried to make inroads into the Chinese market before, even developing a censorship tool for that purpose, according to a 2016 report from the New York Times. However, the efforts to bring the company to China were unsuccessful.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify next week at a congressional hearing on Facebook’s business practices.

Warren has called to break up Facebook and other big tech companies, writing on Medium, “We need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor.” Zuckerberg has referred to Warren as an “existential” threat to the company.

Social media companies including Facebook struggle with policies of free speech and censorship that differ from country to country. A European court recently ruled that European Union member nations can force Facebook to remove content from its platform world wide if that content is found to be illegal under one of those nations’ laws.

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