The policy of the social media company Facebook of not fact checking political ads was severely criticized by lawmakers in the United States while interviewing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Congress hearing.
Zuckerberg was also accused by the lawmakers of allowing the spread of political disinformation before the forthcoming US presidential elections in 2020 during the hearing that was held in Washington.
Zuckerberg also was unable to assure the lawmakers whether the social media platform would remove the hate speeches that are delivered by the candidates running for the office of the president of the US.
It was not his job to police what politicians said, Zuckerberg rold the lawmakers.
Zuckerberg had been called out to testify before the House Financial Services Committee to explain and defend the plans of the company to launch its own digital currency Libra.
However the US lawmakers seemed to be more interested in questioning Zuckerberg about some of the other contentious issues related to Facebook which ranged from the company failing to prevent child exploitation on the social network to the data breach scandal surrounding the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytic.
“I just want to know how far I can push this… could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?” asked Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the social network’s policy on political ads.
The Green New Deal is a Democrat policy fiercely opposed by most Republicans.
Posts that called for violence or tried to suppress voter participation would be pulled down by Facebook irrespective who posts them, Zuckerberg said. However, Facebook did not see as it role to prevent “people in an election from seeing that you had lied” with respect to untruths, he said.
Zuckerberg was also questioned about whether hate speech in political ads would be removed from its platform by Facebook.
“Congressman, I think that depends on a bunch of specifics that I’m not familiar with this case and can’t answer to,” Zuckerberg said in reply to the question.
“Well, that’s rather shocking,” said a lawmaker over Zuckerberg’s comments. . “I don’t think that’s a hard question.”
Talking about Libra, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook also attempted to assure the US lawmakers who have largely been skeptical of the Libra plan of the company, that Facebook would undertake all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the proposed digital currency.
The Libra project has been facing a host of problems recently with some of the key corporate backers of the project having exited along with increasing scrutiny and skepticism of the project from regulators all across the world.
Concerns that the Libra could be put to use for terror financing or money laundering or possible disruption of the global financial system or giving access to too much data of users to Facebook have been expressed by Members of the US Congress.
Zuckerberg defended the project claiming that it would be helpful for more than a billion adults without a bank account worldwide while also stating that he was determined to persevere with the plan.
But he added; “I get that I’m not the ideal messenger for this right now. We’ve faced a lot of issues over the past few years and I’m sure there are a lot of people who wish it were anyone but Facebook that was helping to propose this.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)