“We don’t fact-check political ads,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a recent speech. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”
That might be simple common sense to many Americans, but to some Democrats these days, and particularly the Joe Biden campaign, it’s a dangerous point of view.
Biden recently complained when Facebook declined to censor an ad from the Trump reelection campaign that said, “Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.” Even though that is an entirely defensible assertion — “Everything in the ad is factually accurate,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told me, adding that the spot was reviewed by lawyers prior to its release — and even though it is certainly in line with the political debate that dominates today’s news, the Biden campaign demanded Facebook ban the ad.
“Whether it originates from the Kremlin or Trump Tower, these lies and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections in America,” a Biden spokesman said. “It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.”
A Facebook spokesman replied that the company made its decision out of respect for free expression and faith that a controversial ad will receive intense scrutiny in today’s media world. “In mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” the spokesman said.
The left wants to silence its opponents. The right wants the left to just keep on talking.