How did it all start?
In June, the campaign of Joe Biden, American statesman, politician and
By his act this summer, Biden directly threwChallenge Facebook for its disinformation policy months before the 2020 election. This is not the first time many Democrats have called on Facebook to better monitor disinformation on its platform, especially after some credit Facebook with President Trump's victory in 2016. Biden's patience snapped after the platform refused to be responsible for spreading messages from Trump, which mentioned violence against protesters over the death of George Floyd.
Trump's provocative post
In the United States in June, protests continued unabated (andaccompanying ransacking stores) due to the murder of a black resident of Minneapolis, George Floyd, by a police officer. President Donald Trump has been actively commenting on events in his social networks.
On Friday, May 29, the President tweetedthreatening warning: “These thugs are devaluing the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Spoke with [Minnesota] Governor Tim Waltz and said the army is completely on his side. We will take control of any difficulties, but when the looting begins, shooting begins. Thanks".
"When the looting starts, the shooting starts"(“When the looting begins, the shooting begins”) - this phrase was uttered in 1967 by the head of the Miami police Walter Hadley in response to the robberies and pogroms that took place in the city at the same time as the peaceful actions for the rights of the black population. Then the police stopped the riots, including shooting to kill.
In 2020, these words turned out to be differenteffects. Twitter considered Trump's recording "praising violence" and tagged it accordingly. Adding, however, that the rules of the social network allow not to hide this entry from readers. This tweet has now been deleted. Outraged Trump was left with only retweeting his supporters.
However, the same post appeared on the pagePresident on Facebook. The head of the company, Mark Zuckerberg, personally decided that the entry about looting and shooting does not require comments from the social network. This act had consequences that have not been forgotten to this day.
Zuckerberg's defense speech
In the spring Facebook got a short respite from everythingthe growing criticism of the problems with the distribution of provocative content, as the whole world fought against the coronavirus, from which the United States was hit harder than many. In difficult times, the platform has become a means of communication for many. It looks like this delay is over in the summer and disagreements about Facebook's decisions are spreading within the company.
At a controversial online meeting with Facebook employeesIn June, when platform employees refused to work because of Trump's post on protesters, the company's CEO defended his decision not to speak out against the conflicting messages posted by the president.
According to a recording obtained by The Verge in June,Zuckerberg said he was upset by Trump's recent messages, one of which warned protesters that "when the robbery starts, shooting starts." But he firmly stated that “he knew to separate his personal opinions ... from our policies and the principles of the platform we operate on - knowing that the decision made would lead to the fact that many people in the company would be upset” and “we get a lot of criticism in the media. " “This is likely a huge practical cost for the company,” added Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg promises two months before the election
However, in early September, Zuckerberg personallyannounced that Facebook will stop accepting political ads in the United States a week before election day on November 3. This is just one of Facebook's decisions that CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will help ensure a fair election in November.
The Facebook CEO also said he is adding a week-long ban on new ads ahead of the election because he is "concerned" about the problems people might face when voting.
"This election will not be routine," Zuckerberg said Thursday of a vote two months away. "We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy."
The new policy was also the last attemptFacebook to respond to longstanding criticism about the processing of political content. Critics say the company gives free rein to those who use the platform to mislead voters. And they accuse the platform of applying inconsistent standards for members of the public, politicians and advertisers.
Despite the fact that the new policy soundedpromisingly, Facebook will continue to show users all political ads that candidates or political action committees buy until that day, and allow these groups to adjust who to target ads to.
Recall, on the same day that Zuckerberg announceda new policy, Trump wrote a post on Facebook encouraging some people who voted by mail to vote a second time in person. Facebook added a tag at the bottom of the post that said, "Mail voting has a long history of reliability in the US."
Biden's new Facebook claim
And yet, at the end of September, in a few weeksBefore the election, Biden's campaign demanded that Facebook tighten its grip on President Donald Trump's misleading and inaccurate messages, accusing the social media giant of failing to deliver on its recent promises to curb election-related lies.
In a three-page letter to the CEOFacebook to Mark Zuckerberg, obtained by Axios, Biden's campaign manager, Jen O'Malley Dillon, called Facebook "the main spreader of disinformation about the voting process in the country." She recalled the company's pledge in early September to "defend our democracy" by "removing confusion about how this election will go" and "fighting disinformation."
“It's been three weeks,” Dillon wrote. “We saw not progress, but regression. Facebook's continued promise of future action is nothing more than an excuse for inaction. "
“Less than five left before the 2020 electionsmonths, so real changes are needed to Facebook's policies for their platform and how they enforce them to prevent a repetition of the role disinformation played in the 2016 election that has not gone away, ”adds a campaign spokesman for Biden.
Trump's controversial claims: Facebook and Twitter reactions
Over the past weeks, Trump has made a number of false and misleading statements on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
On Monday, for example, he stated on bothplatforms that “ballots returned to states cannot be accurately counted”. Twitter posted a shortcut to Trump's tweet that encouraged people to follow the link to "find out how mail voting is safe and secure."
Facebook originally put a shortcut to their post,associated with the company's Voting Center "for election resources and official updates." Following a backlash on the network, Facebook changed the name to make it clearer that the post is misleading.
Key messages from Biden's campaign to Facebook
- “To them (to the management of Facebook - ed.) it is necessary to promote authoritative and credible sources of information about the elections, not the rantings of bad actors and conspiracy theorists. "
- "They need to quickly remove false, viral information."
- "They need to prevent political candidates and the PKK from using paid advertising to spread lies and misinformation, especially in the two weeks before election day."
- "They need clear rules - applicable everywhere, without exception for the president - that prohibit threats and lies about how to participate in elections."
The letter ends with the suggestion that the decisionFacebook is either biased or influenced by the current administration. Facebook critics often hint that Zuckerberg and / or Vice President of Global Policy Joel Kaplan are holding their thumb in the balance in favor of one side. The Wall Street Journal and Buzzfeed portray Kaplan in their articles as the man who achieved an exception to the rule for the right, which would otherwise have been removed for breaking the rules.
How did Facebook respond?
In response to Dillon's letter, a Facebook spokespersonsaid the company is hearing serious complaints from both sides separating their supporters. “We have faced criticism from Republicans for bias against Conservatives and Democrats for not taking additional steps to restrict the same content,” the spokesman said in a statement. “We have rules to protect electoral integrity and free speech, and we will continue to apply them impartially.”
There will be elections in November, and we will defend political speeches, even if we strongly disagree with them, the company said.
Earlier this month, The Verge reported thatZuckerberg has refused to allow Kaplan to communicate with employees who are critical of his role. The CEO said he considers Kaplan "very strict and principled in his thinking," and said any criticism of the executive was "troubling." The Verge previously posted a comment by Zuckerberg saying that Facebook would "fight" any attempts at regulation if Senator Elizabeth Warren (then the Democratic nominee) became president.
What's the bottom line?
Even before Biden's last Facebook attack,the politician and company representatives were unlikely to get along well. Back in August, it was revealed that Instagram was downgrading the hashtag ratings associated with Biden. Earlier in January, Vice President Biden said that Facebook was deliberately spreading lies. He added that, if elected, he would seek to reform the “permissiveness” of the platform provided by Facebook under section 230 of the 1996 Integrity Act.
The first to air on Tuesdaya presidential debate that will kick off the most intense period of the US elections ahead of November 3. Both Democratic and Republican campaigns will seek to use Facebook to both spread their rhetoric and suppress opposition, while scrutinizing Facebook's role in the entire process. Escalating Biden's campaign could help counter the pressure from right-wing groups on these platforms - a policy that the New York Times has described as "working with the referee."
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