Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Zuckerberg on Facebook’s controversial ad policies and he struggled to answer her questions
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his congressional testimony Wednesday, and he struggled to come up with responses to her questions.
- Congresswoman from New York asked Zuckerberg questions regarding fact-checking political advertisements on the site and who is approved to be a third-party fact checker.
- Other politicians have criticized Facebook’s fact-checking policies when it comes to political ads, like 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his congressional testimony Wednesday, and he struggled to come up with responses to her questions.
Zuckerberg sat before the House Financial Services Committee as the congresswoman from New York asked him questions regarding fact-checking political advertisements on the site, which has faced criticisms from other politicians like 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal?” Ocasio-Cortez asked during the hearing. “I mean if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here.”
“I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head,” Zuckerberg said. As Ocasio-Cortez began to move to another question, he added, “I think, probably.”
The social media site confirmed earlier this month that these ads were allowed to run, and that in most instances political ads would not be subject to fact-checking.
“Posts and ads from politicians are generally not subjected to fact-checking,” according to Facebook’s policy. “In evaluating when this applies we ask our fact-checking partners to look at politicians at every level.”
President Donald Trump reportedly spent $1.6 million on advertising on Facebook with misleading and debunked claims about former Vice President Joe Biden in relation to the whistleblower scandal in which both politicians are entangled. Facebook did take down one of Trump’s ad, but only because he called Biden a “b—h,” which violated the platform’s policy on profanity.
“So you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “I think that’s a pretty simple yes or no. I’m not talking about spin, I’m talking about actual disinformation.”
“This is a democracy,” Zuckerberg replied. “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.”
The Facebook CEO clarified that the site would take down any posts “calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm or voter or census suppression.”
“There will be some instances where a false or partly false rating from our fact-checking partners will affect politicians,” Facebook’s policy continues. “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.”
The congresswoman proceeded to ask about Facebook’s partnership with Check Your Fact, a subsidiary of the Daily Caller, which has been tied to white nationalists. Check Your Fact is one of six third-party organizations working with the social media site to fact-check content.
Zuckerberg said Facebook does not appoint the organizations, rather it works with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, which has “a rigorous standard as to who they allow as a fact-checker,” he said during the testimony.
Facebook spokesperson Lauren Svensson told Vox that “we do believe in having a diverse set of fact-checking partners.”
Watch a clip of the testimony below:
This is a WILD exchange. The last two questions at the end made me gasp. @AOC: “So you would say that white supremacist tied publications meet a rigorous standard for fact checking?” Watch how Mark Zuckerberg responds.pic.twitter.com/tHKKu7VTVU