Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democrats, has penned an open letter to Facebook, urging the social media company to do more to censor “misinformation.”
Facebook replied immediately and effectively said they can’t keep being pulled to implement opposing features by Democrats and Republicans.
Biden says millions of Americans rely on Facebook for news. “But the company continues to amplify misinformation and lets candidates pay to target and confuse voters with lies,” Biden says in the letter.
The Biden camp has previously tried to get Facebook to “improve American Democracy” and end Trump’s “lies” on the platform.
“The campaign has proposed meaningful ways to check disinformation on your platform and to limit the effect of false ads,” reads part of the letter. “But Facebook has taken no meaningful action. It continues to allow Donald Trump to say anything — and to pay to ensure that his wild claims reach millions of voters.”
Indeed, social media companies make money through campaign ads. So, Biden’s proposals, such as not allowing politicians to post ads with misinformation, do not exactly fit the company’s business model. But it would also be a logistical nightmare for Facebook to have to take on the responsibility of deciding what’s true or not.
“There should be a two-week pre-election period during which all political advertisements must be fact-checked before they are permitted to run on Facebook,” Biden demands.
In response to the letter, Facebook said that it’s elected officials that should set regulations for social media companies to follow.
“Just as they have done with broadcast networks — where the US government prohibits rejecting politicians’ campaign ads — the people’s elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them,” said the company. “There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.”
Another proposal asks Facebook to cease “amplifying untrustworthy content.” However, as we know, Facebook already has a strict fact-checking system in place – one that often gets things wrong.
That said, the “political neutrality” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has assumed with regards to the decision around whether to censor the President, resulted in heavy criticism from some vocal employees and the media.
Facebook users, partners, and even some employees were outraged that the social platform is not taking down posts by Trump. Critics argue that the president’s posts go against Facebook’s community standards, which forbid inciting violence. Zuckerberg argues it would be wrong to censor a world leader.
The open letter from Biden is more than words and suggestions. It is a lead-generation petition the Biden camp is using to collect email addresses.
Next week, look out for the Biden campaign releasing a video explaining how Facebook’s lack of censorship is a real problem that endangers the November elections. The hope is public pressure will force Facebook to act accordingly.