Biden Readies Attack on Facebook’s Speech Policies

Biden Readies Attack on Facebook’s Speech Policies

Biden Readies Attack on Facebook’s Speech Policies

Biden Readies Attack on Facebook’s Speech Policies

The video criticizing Facebook will be narrated by Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign director, Kate Bedingfield. It will warn that Facebook’s inaction toward Mr. Trump threatens the election and puts Americans in harm’s way. The goal is to publicly pressure Facebook’s leadership to restrict misinformation by politicians and to fact-check political ads ahead of the November election.

The tensions between the Biden campaign and Facebook began last October, in the heat of Mr. Trump’s impeachment battle. The Trump campaign released ads on Facebook that falsely claimed that Mr. Biden offered to bribe Ukrainian officials to drop an investigation into his son. The claims in the video ads were not substantiated, and television networks, including CNN, declined to run the ads.

The campaign complained to Facebook and demanded that the videos, which were viewed and shared millions of times, be removed. But the company said the videos didn’t clearly violate its policies against misinformation and that comments by politicians and their campaigns, even if false, were newsworthy and important for public discourse.

Mr. Zuckerberg later that month defended that decision in a speech at Georgetown University, arguing that he believed political speech did not need to be fact-checked or moderated by the company because comments by political figures were deeply scrutinized by the public.

In January, in an interview with The New York Times’s editorial board, Mr. Biden criticized Mr. Zuckerberg personally.

“I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan,” Mr. Biden said. “I think he’s a real problem.”

Mr. Biden also called for the end of the legal shield Mr. Trump targeted recently in his executive order. The vice president said Facebook’s inaction demonstrated the need to revoke the law, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields them from most liability for the content they host.

Behind the scenes, the campaign had continued to negotiate with top Facebook executives and lobbyists, according to letters obtained by The Times. In April, senior campaign officials wrote Brian Rice, the top Democratic lobbyist for Facebook, with proposals to improve fact-checking ahead of the election. The campaign called for Facebook to fact check new political ads two weeks ahead of the Nov. 3 election, and to restrict campaigns and candidates from sharing content already deemed false by third-party fact checkers.


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