There’s no way to spin this: Facebook is currently running a political ad with a false claim that Biden tried to bribe Ukraine regarding an investigation into a firm that employed his son. Facebook’s own fact-checking partners have debunked this claim, and yet, the ad has been viewed millions of times and even re-broadcasted by traditional media outlets.
According to its own misinformation policy governing ads, Facebook
“…prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/prohibited_content/misinformation
Open and shut case, right? Not so fast, or at least, no so fast as of September 24th, when Facebook “clarified” why it was allowing political ads containing lies to run on its platform unchecked. Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg announced on the stage at the Atlantic Festival in Washington D.C.
“We have a responsibility to protect the platform from outside interference, and to make sure that when people pay us for political ads we make it as transparent as possible. But it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak.”https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/09/elections-and-political-speech/
And furthermore, Mr. Clegg cites a policy established in 2016 (approximately one month prior to the November 2016 elections) that literally grants an exception to ANY content it deems “newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest…“
“..if someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm.” (emphasis mine)https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/09/elections-and-political-speech/
I can get behind the principle of this – Facebook is trying to tread the fine line between unbiased distribution of information while facing the impossible task of fact-checking the millions of posts that are published on it platform. But here’s the hitch: Facebook is telling us that it has our best interests at heart, but has repeatedly demonstrated that this is just not the case. Also consider the fact that Facebook considers profanity banworthy but not outright falsehoods. Based solely on that alone, I would question whether or not Facebook has an accurate understanding of what is actually harmful. That and the incident where the spread of false information via Facebook actually lead to genocide, something that the world seems to have conveniently forgotten.
Given that political ads are resulting in millions of dollars in revenue a week for Facebook, and that Mark Zuckerberg has been quietly hosting private dinners with high-profile right-wing conservatives (a verifiable large source of ad revenue) who have been critical of Facebook in the past, its pretty clear that Facebook knows exactly which side butters its toast.
I don’t care which side of the political spectrum an ad comes from, but I do care if you are relying on falsehoods instead of facts to profit, and I find it offensive that the world’s biggest social media platform on which billions trust as their primary news source disrespects its customers with double standards and naked profiteering. At minimum, you should be taking everything you see on Facebook with a huge grain of salt, especially the political ads.