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Pelosi Squares Off with Facebook Over Misinformation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the Menlo Park-based company this week saying that it has not done enough to disrupt the flow of misleading and false information on its social media platform.

by Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle / January 17, 2020
Shutterstock/rafapress

(TNS) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took another swipe at Facebook on Thursday over the social media giant’s reluctance to police disinformation, calling its executives “accomplices for misleading the American people.”

Pelosi has been angry at the Menlo Park company since it refused last year to take down a video of her that had been edited to make her appear to be slurring her speech. Asked at a news conference Thursday if Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have too much power, the San Francisco Democrat said the firm cared only about making money without regard for the truthfulness of information.

Pelosi said Facebook has made it clear that “they intend to be accomplices for misleading the American people, with money from God knows where.”

She added, “They didn’t even check on the money from Russia in the last election. They never even thought they should. ... I think their behavior is shameful.”

Pelosi also said Facebook has “schmoozed” the Trump administration because all the company wants is tax cuts and to avoid antitrust litigation against it.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Facebook announced that it will unveil a tool this summer to let users decide if they want to see fewer political ads. But the company has come under fire for refusing to monitor campaign ads for truthfulness.

“While Twitter has chosen to block political ads and Google has chosen to limit the targeting of political ads, we are choosing to expand transparency and give more controls to people when it comes to political ads,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, wrote in a blog post.

When Facebook refused to take down the Pelosi video last spring, the House speaker said the company’s attitude was, “‘I know this is false and it’s a lie, but we’re running it anyway.’”

“I can take it,” Pelosi said. “But (Facebook is) lying to the public.”

Last week, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, told House lawmakers that Facebook’s new policy to combat manipulated media would not lead it to remove the doctored Pelosi video. However, Facebook should have labeled it more quickly at the time as false, she said.

“It was labeled false,” Bickert testified. But “we think we could have gotten that to fact-checkers faster, and we think the label that we put on it could have been more clear.”

©2020 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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