Zuckerberg responds to Trump vs. Twitter
Zuckerberg says, “Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online”
President Donald Trump is what many would call a power Twitter user. In 2016, Trump claimed his social media usage as president would be "very restrained, if I use it at all," but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, Trump has used Twitter to praise dictators, complain about allies and spread mass amounts of misinformation.
This week, though, his beloved social media platform decided to take action and labeled two of his tweets as containing misleading information. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has since shared his thoughts on Twitter’s actions, and he does not agree with the labels.
In an interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino, Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s choice to forgo labeling misinformation shared by politicians after Twitter placed its own labels on two posts from President Trump, ultimately labeling the tweets as “misleading.” When asked by Perino if he thought Twitter “made the wrong decision,” Zuckerberg explained that Facebook has “a different policy than Twitter on this.”
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg emphasized. “I think in general private companies probably shouldn't be — especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
Zuckerberg has previously defended Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to continue posting potentially misleading political ads containing false claims and information on the social media platform. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Zuckerberg would essentially come to Trump’s defense in his current throwdown with Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey.
During a speech at Georgetown University this past October, Zuckerberg doubled down on the spread of misinformation on the platform, claiming, “Political ads on Facebook are more transparent than anywhere else. We don’t fact check political ads… because we believe people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”
Twitter, on the other hand, has decided it’s finally time to act against misleading tweets, even if they’re from the President. In a comment to The Hill, a spokesperson for the company shared that the president’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” Meaning, Twitter now has no issue with calling the President out on alleged lies.
Zuckerberg’s comments are certainly questionable, as Facebook has become remarkably well-known for allowing the spread of mass misinformation, particularly during elections. According to BuzzFeed News analysis, in 2016 the highest-ranking fake election news stories on Facebook were able to generate more engagement than top stories from news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News and others.
At the time, Brendan Nyhan, a professor at Dartmouth College who researches political misinformation and fact-checking told BuzzFeed News, "I’m troubled that Facebook is doing so little to combat fake news. Even if they did not swing the election, the evidence is clear that bogus stories have incredible reach on the network. Facebook should be fighting misinformation, not amplifying it."
In light of Twitter’s recent moves to label misleading Trump tweets, it will be interesting to see if Zuckerberg ever considers changing Facebook’s stance on misleading information posted on the platform.