July 15, 2024

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Facebook under pressure from Biden campaign to change its approach to political speech


Facebook has been under fire for not doing enough to combat misinformation from politicians.

Angela Lang/CNET

US Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden urged Facebook on Thursday to change its mostly hands-off approach to political speech.

“Folks, we saw in 2016 what can happen when social media platforms are left unchecked and allow disinformation to run rampant. It puts the very integrity of our elections at risk. We simply cannot let it happen again in 2020,” Biden said in a tweet.

In an open letter to Facebook shared on its website Thursday, the Biden campaign asks the social network to fact check all political ads before they’re allowed to run on the social network. The campaign is also asking Facebook to fact check election content that goes viral and not amplify untrustworthy content. 

The campaign wants clear rules that bar “threatening behavior and lies about how to participate in the election,” the letter states. It used #MoveFastFixit to spread the message. 

The move shows that tensions between politicians and Facebook are continuing to escalate after the company’s approach to political speech contrasted with how Twitter is handling the same content on its platform. In May, Twitter fact checked President Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots for “potentially misleading information” and placed a label on them. Twitter also placed a public interest notice over the president’s tweet for violating its rules against glorifying violence after he stated in the post that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter users could still view the tweet if they clicked on the notice. Facebook didin’t take any action against Trump’s post, sparking outrage from its own employees.

Facebook doesn’t send content from politicians to its third-party fact checkers because the company said the speech is already heavily scrutinized. It does have rules against posting content that aimed at deterring of preventing people from voting.

In response, Facebook put the pressure on elected officials to create rules about campaign ads and content.

“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. There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it,” Facebook said in a statement. 

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