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Zuckerberg's pro-Trump stance is proving PR nightmare

by on12 June 2020

Tech policy groups worry about association with hate, misinformation, and abuse

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to apply platform policies to moderate rule-breaking posts by President Trump and other political figures is costing his company street cred.

Public Knowledge and the Open Technology Institute said they would no longer accept funding from Facebook because it refuses to moderate hate, misinformation, and abuse.

Chris Lewis, President and CEO of Public Knowledge, in a statement that while it was possible for different platforms to have different moderation policies, platforms shouldn't hide behind the First Amendment as an excuse to allow hate, misinformation, and abuse to run rampant on their services, particularly when they hold such a dominant position in the marketplace.

“Doing so distorts what the First Amendment means, and ignores the influence that moderation has on our civic conversations and system of democracy."

Sarah Morris, director of New America's Open Technology Institute, pointed to Facebook's suspension of black people's accounts and its tolerance of white supremacist content, noting that the biz has long struggled with responsibility.

Despite calls by civil rights groups to reform the ad network's policies around online speech that incites violence, promotes voter suppression, and spreads misinformation to disenfranchise the black community. "Last week Facebook's leadership doubled down in defense of the decision to allow posts from the President that included calls to violence and false information about primary elections", said Morris in a statement.

The pair are putting their money where their mouth is and are refusing to take funding from Facebook. While this hurts them in the pocket, it does mean that when the tech policy groups confront issues in which their patrons have a business interest no one can say they have been bribed.

Twitter for the first-time flagged tweets made by Trump and retweeted by the White House that prompted misinformation or violence. Facebook, however, has not done so with similar content on claiming that the company should not be an arbiter of truth.

This has so far resulted in employee resignations and internal protests which also failed to move Zuckerberg.

In a letter written to the Financial Times, liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, claimed that Zuckerberg and Trump have struck a “mutual assistance arrangement” that will help the US president “get re-elected”. He didn’t provide any proof but while outfits like Twitter are rushing to appear reasonable about fake news, Zuckerberg seems more keen on keeping Trump sweet.

Last modified on 12 June 2020
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