It seems that Facebook will have to, willie-nilly, once again accept the role of a major election process player and “influencer” – assigned to it by US campaign politics.
The platform, that has over two billion users, was previously accused of contributing to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory by “not doing enough” to fight “fake news and misinformation.”
The social media giant has been, and continues to be, accused of various wrong-doings from all sides, but it is the Democrats who seem to be ramping up that pressure now and even taking it in a new direction.
A June 26 House Homeland Security Committee hearing provided an opportunity for strong criticism of Big Tech by both sides of the political divide.
More than 27 Democratic leaders have now written a highly critical letter.
The letter solidifies expectations that the Democratic Party intends to play the “misinformation” card preemptively ahead of the 2020 elections.
The signatories imply that Facebook is not serious in tackling political disinformation, which they said poses “grave consequences to our nation’s democracy.”
A slowed-down parody video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, making her appear drunk, was recently posted on Facebook, and allowed to remain there. It was flagged as inauthentic by the platform, which, in turn, relied on “trusted fact-checkers.”
Facebook defended the decision by saying that comedians often use the trick of slowing down audio to ridicule politicians – arguing effectively that there was no need to censor the work – but explaining that it would be downranked nonetheless.
This has angered many Democrats and was mentioned in the letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He was also asked to answer “a series of questions” both about the video, and about how his company was “preparing” for the upcoming elections.
Frank Pallone, a Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee went as far as to suggest that Facebook was failing to “immediately address” what is seen as political disinformation because this policy produces monetary gains for the giant.
During the hearing on Wednesday, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook all said they were “consulting with outside experts” about combating misinformation during this election cycle.