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Facebook exempts political speech from fact-checking

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Facebook will not fact-check the statements politicians post to the site, the social network announced Tuesday ahead of the US 2020 elections, even as it works to discredit false information meant to manipulate public opinion.

While the social network relies on third-party fact-checkers, including news organizations such as AFP, to help it discredit viral misinformation, it will stop short of wading into the veracity of political claims.

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“We don’t believe… that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president of global affairs and communications.

“This means that we will not send organic content or ads from politicians to our third-party fact-checking partners for review,” he said.

Worries have run high ahead of the November 2020 polls following revelations of a wide-ranging misinformation campaign on Facebook and other social platforms, largely directed by Russian operatives, in the 2016 elections.

Overwhelmed by such disinformation, Facebook has set up partnerships with media outlets to verify articles and posts found to be of a dubious nature, with journalists’ contributions appearing below problematic content, which is labeled as doubtful.

Exclusion of politicians’ discourse has been part of Facebook’s policy for over a year, Clegg said.

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“However, when a politician shares previously debunked content including links, videos and photos, we plan to demote that content, display related information from fact-checkers, and reject its inclusion in advertisements,” he said.

Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister, joined Facebook less than a year ago to help fix its scandal-plagued image following Russian social media campaigns during elections.

Facebook meanwhile walks a fine line in its attempts to balance freedom of expression with regulation of inappropriate content.

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Its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has taken steps to increase transparency, especially when it comes to political advertising.

The social network has come under fire from critics, particularly Democrats, who believe that tech giants have become too powerful. Meanwhile Republicans, including US President Donald Trump, regularly accuse the social network of censoring conservative voices.

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2020 Election

Democratic candidates demand investigation into toxic culture at NBC ahead of MSNBC debate

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Four Democratic candidates called on NBC’s parent company Comcast to launch an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at the network ahead of Wednesday’s presidential debate to be broadcast by MSNBC.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey signed a letter calling the allegations of “sexual assault and harassment” by employees and “a cover-up by NBC’s management” deeply “troubling.” Instead of addressing the company, the senators issued their letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez.

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2020 Election

Warren criticized for conciliatory remarks on post-coup Bolivia

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Top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is under fire from progressives and Indigenous activists for her comments Monday about the recent coup in Bolivia—remarks her critics called too conciliatory to the right-wing un-elected government that seized power after President Evo Morales was forced to resign and flee the country.

"The Bolivian people deserve free and fair elections, as soon as possible," Warren tweeted Monday afternoon. "Bolivia's interim leadership must limit itself to preparing for an early, legitimate election. Bolivia's security forces must protect demonstrators, not commit violence against them."

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2020 Election

‘Disqualifying’: Pete Buttigieg faces backlash for praising right-wing Tea Party movement in resurfaced 2010 video

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"I believe we might find that we have a lot in common," Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said during an event hosted by Citizens for Common Sense.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is facing backlash over a resurfaced video from 2010 in which he offered words of praise for the right-wing Tea Party movement and expressed a desire to find common ground.

During an October 2010 forum in Indiana hosted by the Tea Party-affiliated group Citizens for Common Sense, Buttigieg—then a candidate for Indiana state treasurer—told the audience that "there's some, especially in my party, who think the Tea Party's a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party."

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