Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, on Facebook's impact on the financial services and housing sectors. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Is Facebook Letting Politicians Lie?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has recently testified in front of the Senate, due to the announcement of a new, possibly  illicit, policy, that could potentially affect the results of the 2020 presidential election and the Brexit campaign. 

Zuckerberg walking towards senators|Photo Courtesy of VOX News

Facebook announced it would refrain from fact-checking political speech on the site, which includes ads  and campaigns. This allows politicians to spread misinformation with no repercussions, despite how dangerous a lying politician can be. The US Senate recognizes how critically perilous this can be, and has called on Mark Zuckerberg to explain Facebook’s motives behind the new policy.

House Democrats fear President Trump will abuse this policy and use it to manipulate voters into re-electing him. 

“Facebook has not only created a space where we know misinformation has run rampant for a long time, but they’ve always allowed the Trump campaign to take advantage of the platform to spread blatantly false posts and advertising,” said Tara McGowan, Democrat and the chief executive of ACRONYM, a progressive nonprofit that tracks digital ad spending.

Zuckerberg speaking to the Senate|Photo Courtesy of MIT Technology Review

Facebook’s new policy will reinforce the prospering relationship between Politics and lie-telling. 

Trump, however, isn’t the only  politician taking advantage of Facebook’s new policy. The Brexit campaign will also be able to run false ads during the UK elections. Practically anybody can lie about anything, no matter how recklessly fraudulent it may be. Politicians fear that this opportunity to deceive voters is disastrous, because voters depend on the information given to them by political candidates to make their decisions. But, when candidates are blatantly lying to the voters, it becomes inherently harder to distinguish between false-hood and fact.

For this reason, Congress called for Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, to answer their questions and concerns. Among the members of congress present at the hearing was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 

“ [Could Ocasio-Cortez] run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that 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, what’s fair game,” Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Zuckerberg told Ocasio-Cortez she could “probably” run such an ad, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to ask if Zuckerberg “see[s] a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements.” 

AOC and Zuckerberg|Photo Courtesy of The Rolling Stones

“Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie in it, that would be bad,” Zuckerberg said. 

“So you won’t take down lies, or you will take down lies? I think that’s a pretty simple yes or no.” Ocasio-Cortez said. 

“In most cases, in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves,” Zuckerberg said. 

As of now, it seems no official termination of the policy has taken place, despite the intense grilling that took place in DC. However, the people haven’t kept quiet about their animosity towards Facebook’s new policy. Politicians, journalists, and everyday people have taken to social media platforms such as twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook, to project their fears concerning the dangerous policy. The idea of letting politicians, businessmen, and especially presidents lie on a public platform that reaches about 2.8 billion people simultaneously, jeopardizes America’s already crooked democracy.

Written by Roaa Alkhawaja

Co-Editor in Chief and Senior, Ro'aa Alkhawaja, loves herself a good week of reading, baking, tea-drinking, and eating more Nutella sandwiches than should be humanly possible.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *