Zuckerberg defends political ads policy and warns that China's censorship model is being...

nanoguy

TS Addict
Staff member

During a speech at Georgetown University this week, Mark Zuckerberg argued that Facebook is a neutral platform and that the best way forward is to let politicians lie in political ads. If that sounds confusing, it's because Facebook is in a strange position where it profits off of misinformation at the same time it's trying to be the champion of democracy and free speech.

Facebook's CEO explained that the decision not to include political ads in its fact-checking program was not so much financial as it was a courtesy to its users who need a voice. He referred to local candidates, advocacy groups and up-and-coming challengers as prime examples of voices that could use social media as an inexpensive way of getting the same public attention enjoyed by incumbents.

His proposition here is to "monitor who is posting the content rather than the content itself," and use that as a way to make those people directly accountable for what they say. This means that people who want to run political ads will have to provide Facebook with proof of their identity and US citizenship, which in theory could serve as a deterrent for bad actors.

Zuckerberg invoked the First Amendment and the struggle for civil rights several times, going as far as linking his mission of freedom of speech to Martin Luther King's efforts. King's daughter took to Twitter to explain that disinformation campaigns created the atmosphere for King's assassination.

The 35-year-old CEO thinks too much responsibility on moderating speech is being placed on the shoulders of tech companies like Facebook. He warned that many people are calling for social networks to censor opposing views in the hopes of ensuring the political outcomes they deem important.

He also believes China is slowly cultivating its un-American values across six of the top ten largest internet platforms, and offered the example of TikTok, a fast-growing Chinese social media app that censors content related to the Hong Kong protests. Apparently, Facebook's American roots are the reason why it is pro-speech, and Zuckerberg thinks it's his company's mission to set an example of what an open internet should be like.

However, it's worth noting that Zuckerberg talks about 'speech' when arguably one of the more pressing aspect that critics have attacked is 'reach'. Facebook makes money by tuning its algorithms to promote content that drives user engagement, so it always has to fix things after the fact. Furthermore, Zuckerberg said in a Fox interview that while he sees the need for policy makers to craft legislation on privacy and data portability, he doesn't think breaking up big tech companies would help in any way.

In the meantime, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is proposing a new law that would hold executives like Zuckerberg personally accountable for the wrongdoings of their companies, with harsh penalties that include jail time.

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Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Needs warning label like the one on tobacco.
"This is a political ad. Unthinking belief and consumption may be hazardous to your health, wealth and happiness."
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
Its not the messenger's duty to verify the accuracy of the message. This goes double when politics are involved because all sides employ propaganda. Censorship tools should be put in the hands of users, not gatekeepers - if you only want to live in an echo chamber, fine, but nobody should have the right to control speech based on an agenda. The only time its appropriate to silence someone is when there is disorderly conduct involved that becomes a blatant public nuisance or danger. No screaming protester has the right to burst your eardrums or block traffic. Nobody has the right to force anyone to repeat a lie. An open and free society lives and dies by how well it balances personal responsibility and personal liberty.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
They need to hold social media companies to the same standards as are publisher and broadcast television ... that is 100% responsible for the content. Zuck couldn't care a bit about freedom of speech, his focus is freedom to make a buck no matter who is harmed. Period.
 
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Ducky again. Only in it for the money though he wants everyone to believe otherwise. Sounds to me like he is really pushing the boundaries with this http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/fTrials/conlaw/lying.html
He isn't pushing the boundaries of anything. Social media is just another platform like a TV channel. Do TV channels have the obligation to fact check every ad or program that runs on it? Of course not.

Why should Facebook be subject to different standards than say ads or programs on channels such as Fox, NBC, etc.?
 
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psycros

TS Evangelist
They need to hold social media companies to the same standards as are publisher and broadcast television ... that is 100% responsible for the content. Zuck couldn't care a bit about freedom of speech, his focus is freedom to make a buck no matter who is harmed. Period.
This would only be true of content produced by the platform itself. If Facebook starts up its own news division then we should expect it to fact-check.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Mr. Zuckerberg is actually making quite a bit of sense with this statement.

That is of course, provided that when political ads are detected, that they are exhaustively and relentlessly, traced back to their source. In other words, the ads for "John Q. Public for mayor of Nowhereville, Indiana", better not be coming from a Russian troll farm.".

AI software is apparently becoming clever enough to adopt the values and opinions of its publishers, and that could be a big problem, in and of itself.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Mr. Zuckerberg is actually making quite a bit of sense with this statement.

That is of course, provided that when political ads are detected, that they are exhaustively and relentlessly, traced back to their source. In other words, the ads for "John Q. Public for mayor of Nowhereville, Indiana", better not be coming from a Russian troll farm.".

AI software is apparently becoming clever enough to adopt the values and opinions of its publishers, and that could be a big problem, in and of itself.
The problem is, who's to say Facebook is going to actually do anything it says. Without the government requiring them to do so with significant penalty upon failure, it makes more sense for Facebook to simply continue down the path that maximizes profit. In this case, taking the money without questions is that path.

Even if we assume that Facebook does do this, how exactly does one track Russian backed ads? Unless they are complete nincompoops, you are going to have a dead end at a tor node. Not that Facebook has any power to do anything against anyone in Russia. What, are they going to ban the fake troll account?

Simply "monitoring" ads is not enough. They should require verifiable ID up front for anything political or sensitive. foreigners should be barred from posting political ads targeted at other countries.

In the end this is just another farce from Facebook appearing to be doing something when in reality their method is designed to fail and is being done with zero oversight or accountability.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
He isn't pushing the boundaries of anything. Social media is just another platform like a TV channel. Do TV channels have the obligation to fact check every ad or program that runs on it? Of course not.

Why should Facebook be subject to different standards than say ads or programs on channels such as Fox, NBC, etc.?
If you look closely at the link I posted, you will find that SCOTUS, with respect to First Amendment Rights, has decided that lies in political ads are OK as long as the viewer would reasonably know that the lie is a fabrication. Ducky and fakebook promoting that to let them lie whenever they want implies that he is knowingly taking a stance of letting people break the law, IMO. Though Ducky may think so, he is not above the law. Whether he likes it or not, his platform is culpable and enabled interference in the US elections.

I will leave it as a passing mention about the people on fakebook who decided that any propaganda was resoundingly true. :facepalm: I heard it on fakebook. It must be true.

I fully agree with @Evernessince that Ducky is only doing this to make himself look as if he is a champion of free speech. He is hardly an outside actor looking in on an industry. He has a vested interest in the platform as it is completely under his control. He could give two :poop: s what goes on on his platform, even if it is enabling unlawful activity, as long as it makes him a buck. I would love to have sat in on the board meeting that decided this speech was in the best interests of fakebook as that would be the only way to understand exactly what Ducky was trying to accomplish with this facade.

IMO, the crime here is people believe this charlatan primarily because they seem him as the god human being who has lots of money, and money is everything.

Money != Wisdom or Ethical.
 
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If you look closely at the link I posted, you will find that SCOTUS, with respect to First Amendment Rights, has decided that lies in political ads are OK as long as the viewer would reasonably know that the lie is a fabrication.
Your link does not say that. You are mixing up different concepts in the link.

First, only the person making the statement can be held liable if the person knew it was false or the person recklessly ignored the truth. Facebook isn't even the party making the statement here - they are just a platform for other parties to make the statement.

Here is what your link says: " The Court held such statements, when made about about a public official, could not be the basis for awarding damages, at least without evidence that the false statements either were made recklessly or with knowledge of their falsity. The Court suggested that, while false statements contribute nothing of value to political discourse, they need protection to allow "breathing room" for statements that are true."

Second, the part about "viewers reasonably knowing the lie is a fabrication" is based on a separate and second line of defense for someone who was knowingly/deliberately or made a lie. This standard was applied in parody/satire in that particular Larry Flynt Court case. This may or may not apply here depending on the nature of the political ads done on Facebook.

This is what your link says: "The Court held that First Amendment prohibited awarding damages for false statements about public figures that cannot reasonably be believed. Satire and parody often involve false statements, and so long as persons would not take the statements to be true, they cannot be the basis for a tort action."

Third, there is another separate defense that protects political speech - including false claims made during a political campaign. The court ruled that the government is incapable of distinguishing between fact and opinion in regards to political speech....which gives broad leeway for political ads to make all sorts of false claims. This applies to the Facebook situation since the issue is about political ads.

Your link says the following: "...court held that Marilou Rickert, a Green Party candidate for the State Senate, could not be fined for falsely claiming in a campaign broshure that one of her opponents "voted to close a facility for the developmentally challenged." The Court's majority said the state law "naively assumes that the government is capable of correctly and consistently negotiating the thin line between fact and opinion in political speech."

Facebook is protected under several of these separate defenses. First, Facebook is a platform for messages - they never made the message themselves. So they did not make a statement while knowingly or recklessly ignoring the truth because they are not the ones making the statement. And even if they were, you'd have to show they knew or recklessly ignored the stuff was false....which is highly unlikely given that they have millions of ads that can't be monitored all the time.

And moving on to the other defenses, even in the unlikely situation that Facebook might be held liable for the ads made by OTHER parties, these political ads fall under political speech, which gives them broad leeway under the law even if a viewer doesn't reasonably know it is a lie. The Marilou Rickert court case in your link specifically said that false claims made during a political campaign can be counted as "opinion" and can't be penalized as a false statement of fact.


Regardless of whether Zuckerberg himself is a good or bad person, Facebook being a platform where OTHER parties place their political ads is unlikely to make Facebook ultimately liable for promoting false information. Those court cases restrict liability to a party personally knowingly or recklessly making false statements, and the courts give very broad leeway for a false information made during a political campaign.
 
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Cubi Dorf

TS Booster
I am agree with facebook this time. they should not filter any content. people should be accountable for their own ads. verify id to have advertisement is good plan. I still don’t agree with tracking people outside of their own site though for any ad networks. so I still won’t be use facebook.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Your link does not say that. You are mixing up different concepts and arguments.

First, only the person making the statement can be held liable if the person knew it was false or the person recklessly ignored the truth. Facebook isn't even the party making the statement here - they are just a platform for other parties to make the statement.

Here is what your link says: " The Court held such statements, when made about about a public official, could not be the basis for awarding damages, at least without evidence that the false statements either were made recklessly or with knowledge of their falsity. The Court suggested that, while false statements contribute nothing of value to political discourse, they need protection to allow "breathing room" for statements that are true."

Second, the part about "viewers reasonably knowing the lie is a fabrication" is based on a separate and second line of defense for someone who was knowingly/deliberately or made a lie. This standard was applied in parody/satire in that particular Larry Flynt Court case. This may or may not apply here depending on the nature of the political ads done on Facebook.

This is what your link says: "The Court held that First Amendment prohibited awarding damages for false statements about public figures that cannot reasonably be believed. Satire and parody often involve false statements, and so long as persons would not take the statements to be true, they cannot be the basis for a tort action."

Third, there is another separate defense that protects political speech - including false claims made during a political campaign. The court ruled that the government is incapable of distinguishing between fact and opinion in regards to political speech....which gives broad leeway for political ads to make all sorts of false claims. This applies to the Facebook situation since the issue is about political ads.

Your link says the following: "...court held that Marilou Rickert, a Green Party candidate for the State Senate, could not be fined for falsely claiming in a campaign broshure that one of her opponents "voted to close a facility for the developmentally challenged." The Court's majority said the state law "naively assumes that the government is capable of correctly and consistently negotiating the thin line between fact and opinion in political speech."

Facebook is protected under several of these separate defenses. First, Facebook is a platform for messages - they never made the message themselves. So they did not make a statement while knowingly or recklessly ignoring the truth because they are not the ones making the statement. And even if they were, you'd have to show they knew or recklessly ignored the stuff was false....which is highly unlikely given that they have millions of ads that can't be monitored all the time.

And moving on to the other defenses, even in the unlikely situation that Facebook might be held liable for the ads made by OTHER parties, these political ads fall under political speech, which gives them broad leeway under the law even if a viewer doesn't reasonably know it is a lie. The Marilou Rickert court case in your link specifically said that false claims made during a political campaign can be counted as "opinion" and can't be penalized as a false statement of fact.


Regardless of whether Zuckerberg himself is a good or bad person, Facebook being a platform where OTHER parties place their political ads is unlikely to make Facebook ultimately liable for promoting false information. Those court cases restrict liability to a party personally knowingly or recklessly making false statements, and the courts give very broad leeway for a false information made during a political campaign.
If being a platform hosting 3rd party content is a valid defense then why are piracy websites being taken down for that very issue?

The fact of the matter is intent is the most important thing to consider for content aggregators like facebook who host 3rd party content. By law they must make a reasonable effort to moderate illegal 3rd party content. I have not seen that reasonable effort, I have seen public statements and continued failure. FYI it is illegal for any foreign entity to donate, contributes, or provide a politically related service to a candidate.


One can only believe that Facebook is not making a reasonable effort after so many failures, especially given their suggestion are clearly designed to fail. I would very much like to subpena Facebook and see exactly what kind of job they have been doing.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
...[ ]...Even if we assume that Facebook does do this, how exactly does one track Russian backed ads? Unless they are complete nincompoops, you are going to have a dead end at a tor node. Not that Facebook has any power to do anything against anyone in Russia. What, are they going to ban the fake troll account?,...[ ]
I would think anything which pointed to a tor node should be summarily deleted.

Beyond that, doesn't an operation with the IT department has to have, would be able to pick up a spoofed IP as opposed to the candidate's actual site?
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I would think anything which pointed to a tor node should be summarily deleted.

Beyond that, doesn't an operation with the IT department has to have, would be able to pick up a spoofed IP as opposed to the candidate's actual site?
I would say it's hard to use IP address alone as an indicator of legitimacy. Often times campaign employees will post from multiple different locations or IPs. The other problem would be, Facebooks isn't requiring anyone to register up front. From the original article:

"The solution is to verify the identities of accounts getting wide distribution and get better at removing fake accounts. We now require you to provide a government ID and prove your location if you want to run political ads or a large page. "

So in other words, Facebook won't take action until after said ad has already seen widespread distribution. At that point, it wouldn't matter if they stopped the ad and deleted the fake account, it's already done it's damage. That's best case scenario, where Facebook immediately detects political content that's gone viral. It's completely reactive.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I would say it's hard to use IP address alone as an indicator of legitimacy. Often times campaign employees will post from multiple different locations or IPs. The other problem would be, Facebooks isn't requiring anyone to register up front.
Not only that, but there have been legal cases where IP address alone has been ruled inadequate. Take that case where there was a guy that was accused of downloading kiddie porn. He was charged on his IP address alone.
 

willhen50

TS Rookie
Facebook doesn't "curb fake news" they decide what is NEWS, they define news, they are the news. What they should really do is put a disclaimer on their site like WIKIPEDIA; "The information on this site is NOT RELIABLE." They created this monster, now that it is unmanageable they just want to target it at their opposition. Why do $billionaires become hypocrites when they are untouchable?????