On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Joe Biden said he would be open to breaking up Facebook. The former vice president said that dismantling large technology companies is something the government should take a “hard look at.”
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in November, urged his supporters Thursday to petition Facebook to stop disinformation and hold politicians, including President Donald Trump, accountable for spreading lies.
The plea from the former vice president marks an escalation of already taut tensions over the company’s refusal to remove controversial statements made by Trump that referred to violence against protesters.
“Folks, we saw in 2016 what can happen when social media platforms are left unchecked and allow disinformation to run rampant,” Biden said in a tweet. “It puts the very integrity of our elections at risk. We simply cannot let it happen again in 2020.”
Tech platforms are at the center of a deeply partisan debate ahead of the presidential election, with Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders calling on them to stem the flow of misinformation and hate speech, while conservatives – including Trump – accuse them of suppressing GOP speech. After Twitter fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets, the president signed an executive order to limit social media companies’ broad legal protection from liability.
“We live in a democracy, where the elected officials decide the rules around campaigns. Two weeks ago the president of the United States issued an executive order directing federal agencies to prevent social media sites from engaging in activities like fact-checking political statements. This week, the Democratic candidate for president started a petition calling on us to do the exact opposite,” Facebook said in a statement. “Just as they have done with broadcast networks – where the U.S. government prohibits rejecting politicians’ campaign ads – the people’s elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them.”
The Trump campaign couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on the Biden campaign’s petition.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended his controversial decision to leave up Trump’s posts as free speech, even after Trump tweeted of the Minneapolis protests: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the president’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,’’ Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
The company issued a report June 5 about its attempts to combat misinformation.
On Thursday, Facebook said: “There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.”
Facebook promised to take action leading up to the 2020 election, but Biden says the steps weren’t enough. Arguing that Facebook is a news source for tens of millions of Americans, Biden’s petition says Facebook should:
- Promote authoritative and trustworthy sources of election information.
- Remove false information promptly.
- Prevent candidates and political action committees from spreading lies and misinformation, especially within two weeks of the Nov. 3 election.
- Provide clear rules that prevent lies about how to participate in the election.
Democrats have repeatedly criticized Facebook for its indifference to the quality of information on its site. Biden has said he is open to breaking up Facebook, a company with around 1.66 billion daily active users and $21 billion in revenue last year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called Facebook “shameful” and “irresponsible.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/06/11/biden-campaign-trump-facebook-disinformation-election/5342811002/
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