Joe Biden makes Facebook’s lax moderation policy a campaign issue
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has added Facebook to his list of top campaign issues, calling for the company to start rigorously policing its service.
The former vice president published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday demanding that he stop allowing misinformation and “rants of bad actors and conspiracy theorists.” Biden wants Facebook to quickly remove misinformation, promote news from credible sources, ban candidates and political groups from lying in ads, and block efforts to suppress voting—including attempts by President Trump.
“We’re less than 150 days to the election,” Biden said in the letter. “The time for setting, testing, and implementing meaningful policy to protect our elections is running out. Facebook—do the right thing.”
Biden also asked supporters to sign a petition to “ensure a fair election.” To get the word out, his campaign created the social media hashtag #MoveFastFixIt, a take on Facebook’s old motto “Move fast and break things,” and a pre-written message for supporters to share on social media.
The news comes as tensions rise between social media companies and government officials. Two weeks ago, President Trump, upset that Twitter had flagged one of his posts as misinformation, signed an executive order aiming to weaken or remove legal protection for social media companies. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to criticize social media companies for spreading misinformation, hate speech, and violence on its services.
Facebook has taken a hands-off approach to policing politicians’ speech, allowing inflammatory posts from Trump to remain on its service, which has upset many of its employees, and deciding against fact-checking political ads.
In response to Biden’s attack, Facebook said Democrats are demanding that it take action while Republicans are demanding that it do nothing. The company said it would follow whatever rules government established for campaign messages, echoing Zuckerberg’s argument that his company shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth and that regulators should set any guidelines.
“The people’s elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them,” Facebook said in a statement on Thursday. “There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.”