Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Want To Be The “Arbiter Of Truth” — & He’s Not

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is weighing in on President Trump's rampage against social media outlets — but not in the way you think. According to Zuckerberg, social media companies shouldn't be fact checking politicians at all. Private companies should not be the “arbiter of truth” online, he said in an interview with Fox News host Dana Perino after Twitter flagged two of President Donald Trump’s tweets with fact-check warnings on Tuesday. The label was added after Trump tweeted false information about mail-in-ballots, which he has repeatedly claimed are “substantially fraudulent.”
“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Perino. “You know, I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think, in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be — or especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.” 
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However, Twitter's actions seem to foreshadow a potential need for massive social media companies to moderate the spreading of false discourse online. An investigation published by The Wall Street Journal this week found that research conducted internally by Facebook in 2016 and 2018 showed the site’s algorithm contributed significantly to the spread of polarizing content. 
When Zuckerberg was presented with the information, he decided not to take action, insisting that Facebook cannot be blamed for its users’ sometimes extreme and misleading content. But a 2016 presentation, put together by Facebook researcher and sociologist, Monica Lee found a high number of far right extremist groups on the site, and further noted that “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools.” 
Plus, Zuckerberg has himself tried to be the so-called "arbiter of truth" in the past, too, In 2019, Zuckerberg said Facebook would remove content that violated specific community standards, but would ultimately take a hands-off approach to moderating content that did not clearly violate its rules. Even as we head into arguably the most important election of our time, Zuckerberg stands by his claims that the company is not responsible for political polarization on the site, arguing last year that Facebook “must continue to stand for free expression.” 
But some people say it's not about free expression, at all. Journalists called out Zuckerberg on Twitter for not taking a stand, arguing he is instead “protecting his business model” while also undermining “the integrity of the election.” American filmmaker Judd Apatow added that Zuckerberg “just doesn’t want to be held accountable for any of the damage social media creates.”
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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also responded to Zuckerberg's stance, writing, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make."
He added, “This does not make us an 'arbiter of truth.' Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.” 

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