New York Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of protecting white supremacists on Thursday, after Zuckerberg criticized Twitter’s decision to put a fact-check label on United States President Donald Trump’s tweet earlier this week. “Zuckerberg is not worried about being bullied by Trump,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Thursday. “He is worried that Facebook’s PR operation is falling apart as it’s exposed that their platform relies on white supremacists & disinformation peddlers to be successful.
“They aren’t ignoring them. They’re protecting them.” Ocasio-Cortez directly questioned Zuckerberg on Facebook’s policies regarding the fack-checking of content disseminated by white supremacists when he testified in front of Congress in October of last year.
“Remember this? Facebook’s ties to white supremacy-linked orgs and sympathy for disinformation campaigns is not a small thing,” she wrote, pointing to Zuckerberg’s testimony given in October. “It is high level decision making, and appears to come from the top. Rewatch this moment. Especially the end. It’s relevant to what‘s unfolding now.” Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks referenced a tweet by former Obama administration spokesperson Tommy Vietor, who was himself referencing an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, pointing to an internal report that proved Facebook was internally aware that they platform sparked divide and the algorithms they employ “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness.”
“Facebook’s own research shows the platform is polarizing the country and driving people into extremists groups, but Zuckerberg is more worried about being called mean names by Trump,” Vietor said.
Zuckerberg took pains to distance his company from Twitter and its fight with Trump on Thursday, as the White House moved to scrap a law protecting social media companies.
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Republican Trump, who accuses social media firms of bias against conservatives, without evidence, stepped up his attacks on Twitter after the company put a fact-checking label on two of his tweets about mail-in ballots on Tuesday for the first time.
“We have a different policy I think than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Fox News, Trump’s preferred broadcaster. Both sites take down content that violates their terms of service, but Facebook’s approach, he said, has “distinguished us from some of the other tech companies in terms of being stronger on free expression and giving people a voice.”
While Facebook does apply labels to misleading posts, it exempts from review posts by politicians, a decision that some lawmakers and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden say helps lies to flourish online.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook outsources its fact checking to media partners and says it takes no stance itself.
The split with Twitter comes despite Zuckerberg’s more aggressive posture against misinformation in recent months, including pledges to wipe from Facebook’s apps any misleading posts about the novel coronavirus which could cause physical harm.
Facebook took down a coronavirus-related post from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in March.
It also explicitly bans content that misrepresents methods for voting or voter registration “regardless of who it’s coming from.” Zuckerberg said Trump’s comments on Tuesday did not hit Facebook’s bar to be considered in violation of its voter suppression rules.
Trump had posted unsubstantiated claims on both Twitter and Facebook saying the governor of California was sending mail-in ballots to anyone living in the state, “no matter who they are or how they got there,” although ballots are only sent to registered voters. Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said Trump’s claims “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot” and hit back at the White House for pinning the decision on a mid-level Twitter staffer.
A Twitter spokeswoman said that senior executives, including Dorsey, had approved the decision to label Trump’s tweets.
Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday, White House officials said after Trump threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifling conservative voices. The officials gave no further details. It was unclear how Trump could follow through on the threat of shutting down privately owned companies including Twitter Inc.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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