Facebook has gotten into a lot of hot water over the past few years for how it allowed fake news to go viral and spread a web of disinformation that may or may not have helped get one certain man gain possession of the US nuclear codes. Since then, the company has been trying a variety of different strategies to block the spread of fake news but also tackling the difficulties of what to do when politicians promote said fake news as well.
On Thursday 17th October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to put their indecisiveness about the censoring of political figures to bed as he shared in a speech at Georgetown University that moving forward the company will not make any effort to censor politicians, even if they spread false information and fake news:
Given the sensitivity around political ads, I’ve considered whether we should stop allowing them altogether. From a business perspective, the controversy certainly isn’t worth the small part of our business they make up. But political ads are an important part of voice — especially for local candidates, up-and-coming challengers, and advocacy groups that may not get much media attention otherwise… Banning political ads favours incumbents and whoever the media covers. You can still say controversial things, but you have to stand behind them with your real identity and face accountability
Throughout the speech, Zuckerberg made it clear that Facebook was trying to not make political statements with regards to who it supports and will treat all political ads on their platform equally. This will not alter their approach towards media sites that spread fallacious information and will only apply to the political landscape. And he himself also stepped into political territory when he voiced that as a platform, they need to stand for free speech rather than over-regulation:
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. I believe we should err on the side of greater expression.
While I am not a fan of Facebook and the way they treat customer data, I can’t agree more with him here, as it should never be the responsibility of some tech company to decide what information people hear, but rather the responsibility for people to actually fact-check that information themselves.
Last Updated: October 18, 2019