Quantcast
Connect with us

‘Perhaps you believe you’re above the law’: Zuckerberg grilled over Libra, false political ads, and more

Published

on

Facebook founder and CEO is warned that lawmakers have “serious concerns” about Facebook’s size and reach.

House Democrats challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on a number of issues Wednesday at a hearing focused primarily on the company’s efforts to develop cryptocurrency—putting the social media executive on the defensive regarding Facebook’s position on the limits of free speech in political advertising, its labor practices, and critics’ claims that the company supports housing discrimination.

ADVERTISEMENT

Facebook spent more than $12 million in the first nine months of 2019 to lobby the federal government to win approval of Libra, its proposed cryptocurrency, and to fight growing calls that the company should be broken up. Zuckerberg was called to appear before the House Financial Services Committee to explain why lawmakers and the public should trust Facebook.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) opened the hearing by accusing Zuckerberg of ruthlessly pursuing more power through Facebook, which is now used by about a third of the world population, at the expense of its users’ privacy and other rights.

“Perhaps you believe you’re above the law, and its appears that you are aggressively increasing the size of your company and are willing to step on or over anyone—including your competitors, women, people of color, your own users, and even our democracy to get what you want,” said Waters. “Given the company’s size and reach it should be clear why we have serious concerns about your plans to establish a global digital currency.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Part of the company’s threat to democracy, Waters said, comes from allowing factually incorrect political advertising to appear on the platform. Earlier this month, Facebook came under fire for allowing an ad on the site for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign which included falsehoods.

Zuckerberg told the committee that, rather than fact-checking political advertisements before they’re able to appear on the platform, independent fact-checkers review content after it is distributed widely.

CNN notably refused to allow the same video to air on its network, citing falsehoods about the whistleblower complaint which led to the House’s impeachment inquiry including the use of the word ‘coup’ “to describe a constitutionally prescribed legal process.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pointedly asked Zuckerberg whether the company has determined the limits of free political speech.

“Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?” she asked. “I mean, if you’re not fact checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here. What’s fair game?”

ADVERTISEMENT

Zuckerberg replied that he wasn’t sure whether such an ad would be permitted to appear on Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT

Critics of Facebook say the company should acknowledge that it’s used by many as a news publisher and hold itself accountable for the content that appears on the platform.

Zuckerberg also came under fire at Wednesday’s hearing for Facebook’s algorithm and the company’s practice of optimizing ads by sending them to specific demographics—a policy which critics say exacerbates housing discrimination and is reminiscent of the redlining which segregated neighborhoods in the 20th century.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Technological innovations have created new opportunities for discrimination in U.S. housing markets that may be harder to spot, investigate, and attribute to any particular individual when proprietary algorithms are making decisions that have systemic impacts,” wrote the committee ahead of the hearing.

“You have even enabled the practice of this dreaded redlining of certain communities, restricting them from housing and employment opportunities,” said Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.). “We in Congress have worked hard for the past 50 years to eliminate the very racial discrimination practices that your platform is guilty of.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) drove the discussion back to Libra and Zuckerberg’s claim that the cryptocurrency would help the 1.7 billion people around the world who cannot afford to use banks for their financial needs.

“I know you understand the tech and business case for Libra, you have the stats, but I’m not sure you understand the source of the pain that millions are experiencing, that are experiencing underbanking and credit invisibility,” Pressley said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This is not about banking costs,” she added. “This is about a tsunami of hurt that millions are experiencing because of a $1.6 trillion student debt crisis, because of rising healthcare costs and people having to use GoFundMe pages to pay medical bills.”

“You represent the power,” the congresswoman said, “but I don’t think you understand the pain.”

by

ADVERTISEMENT

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Don’t let him rewrite history’: GOP ex-congressman slams Trump for painting fewer than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths as a victory

Published

on

At Wednesday's coronavirus task force press conference, President Donald Trump reiterated his claim that if fewer than 100,000 Americans die from COVID-19, it will be a victory for him.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) had none of it.

He ignored the warnings. He ignored the scientists & doctors. He refused to prepare. He lied about the virus. This country wasn’t ready. People got sick. People died. People lost their jobs. Because he cared more about himself than the country.

Don’t let him rewrite history. https://t.co/9snqoJ1VQI

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Wisconsin GOP plots to strip Democratic governor of more power — a day after forcing voters to stand outside in a pandemic

Published

on

This week, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature have faced national fury after their successful lawsuits blocking Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from delaying the election and extending absentee voting.

But just one day after tens of thousands of voters were forced to stand in public lines and risk COVID-19 exposure just to exercise their constitutional right to vote, the Wisconsin GOP found yet another way to weaponize the pandemic for partisan gain.

According to Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Republicans in the legislature have slipped a provision into the state's relief bill authorizing unemployment disbursement under the federal CARES Act, that would allow the state's Finance Committee to make budget cuts without input from Evers — stripping him of power at exactly the moment when the public would be looking to the governor for help.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

CDC quietly deletes hydroxychloroquine guidance as study hyped by Trump comes into question

Published

on

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday quietly removed bizarre guidelines for using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus. The unproven treatment has been repeatedly hyped by President Donald Trump in spite of the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The CDC published "highly unusual" dosing guidance based on "unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science" last month amid pressure on federal health officials from Trump, Reuters reported. The agency now appears to have quietly removed those guidelines from its website this week.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image