US presidential candidate targets Facebook policy with ‘false’ Zuckerberg ad

By Megan Baynes, PA

US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has paid for a series of Facebook adverts with false claims about chief executive Mark Zuckerberg – shining a light on the platform’s decision to allow politicians to make false statements in paid adverts.

The sponsored post by the political hopeful reads: “Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election.

“You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking, “how could this possibly be true?”

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“Well, it’s not. (Sorry).”

Ms Warren was highlighting an advertising loophole that means politicians are exempt from the company’s third-party fact-checking programme.

She told her 3.3 million Twitter followers: “Facebook holds incredible power to affect elections and our national debate.

“They’ve decided to let political figures lie to you – even about Facebook itself – while their executives and their investors get even richer off the ads containing these lies.

“Once again, we’re seeing Facebook throw its hands up to battling misinformation in the political discourse, because when profit comes up against protecting democracy, Facebook chooses profit.

“Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once through negligence.

“Now, they’ve changed their policy so they can profit from lies to the American people. It’s time to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable.”

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Sir Nick Clegg (Niall Carson/PA)
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Sir Nick Clegg (Niall Carson/PA)

The decision to not fact-check political adverts was announced by Sir Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister and now Facebook’s vice president of global affairs.

Speaking at the Atlantic Festival in Washington DC last month, Sir Nick said “it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak”.

“We do not submit speeches by politicians to our independent fact-checkers and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules,” he said.

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