- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2020

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden wants Facebook to crack down on President Trump, but Facebook has refused and pledged to protect all political speech, including comments it deems indefensible.

Mr. Biden’s campaign published on Thursday an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the social media giant has taken “no meaningful action” to combat misinformation and disinformation on its platform. Mr. Biden’s campaign argued Facebook is letting Mr. Trump spread fear and misinformation that could “compromise the means of holding power to account.”

“After foreign operatives and rightwing trolls used Facebook to hack the 2016 election, Facebook vowed ‘never again’ and promised to take action. But with fewer than 5 months until the 2020 election, Facebook seems to be on a crash course to let the same mistakes happen again,” the Biden campaign’s website reads. “Tens of millions of Americans rely on Facebook as a news source. But the company continues to amplify misinformation and lets candidates pay to target and confuse voters with lies.”

Facebook responded with a statement saying it would follow the laws and rules in the run-up to the November election. The company spotlighted efforts by both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump to influence the company’s content moderation, before noting that it would follow the rules set out by U.S. election officials.

“Just as they have done with broadcast networks — where the U.S. government prohibits rejecting politicians’ campaign ads — the people’s elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them,” Facebook said in a statement. “There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.”

Facebook has recently taken other steps to explicitly distance itself from contentious content decisions surrounding political speech. Facebook created an oversight board with responsibility for content enforcement and governance across the social media company’s platforms. Facebook set up the board as a limited liability company separate from Facebook with a $130 million trust established by the company.

Facebook has already announced the first 20 members of the board, but Facebook oversight board co-chair Michael McConnell previously told The Washington Times that the board may not be operational before the end of 2020.

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