It’s always a good day when AOC fires up the grill and hammers a witness like Mark Zuckerberg with a barrage of questions exposing the utter bankruptcy of his irresponsible, libertarian, democracy-wrecking policies over on Facebook. But today was especially grand, because she used the past behavior of Zuckerberg and his board pals to demonstrate why there is absolutely no way Facebook should be allowed to launch a proprietary cryptocurrency.
First, she laid the foundation with his Cambridge Analytica associations, with a touch of Peter Thiel for good measure. Then she moved on to his decision to allow politicians to spread disinformation via Facebook ads. That did not go well at all.
Finally, the pièce de résistance: Facebook’s decision to allow Daily Caller, with its white supremacist ties, to fact-check news articles on the site. Oh, and there was this, too: “So you would say that white supremacist-tied publications meet a rigorous standard for fact checking?”
AOC: It’s good to see you, Mr. Zuckerberg. I think you of all people can appreciate using a person’s past behavior in order to determine, predict or make decisions about future behavior. In order for us to make decisions about Libra, we need to kind of dig into your past behavior and Facebook’s past behavior with respect to our democracy. What year and month did you personally first become aware of Cambridge Analytica?
ZUCKERBERG: I’m not sure of the exact time. But it was probably around the time when it became public. I think it was around March of 2018. I could be wrong.
AOC When did Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg become aware of Cambridge Analytica?
ZUCKERBERG: I don’t know.
AOC: Did anyone on your leadership team know about Cambridge Analytica prior to the initial report by the Guardian on December 11, 2015?
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I believe so. Some folks were tracking it internally. As you’re asking this, I do think I was aware of Cambridge Analytica as an entity earlier, I just don’t know if I was tracking it.
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AOC: When was the issue discussed with your board member Peter Thiel?
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I don’t know that.
AOC: This was the largest data scandal with respect to your company that had catastrophic impacts on the 2016 election. You don’t know?
ZUCKERBERG: I’m sure we discussed it after we were aware of what happened.
AOC: You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation. In 2020 election and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year. Under your policy using census data as well, could I pay to target black predominantly zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?
ZUCKERBERG: No, congresswoman, you couldn’t. We have even for these policies around the news worthiness of content that politicians say and the general principle that I believe —
AOC: But you said you’re not going to fact check my ads.
ZUCKERBERG: If anyone including a politician is saying things that can cause violence or could risk eminent physical harm or voter or census suppression, we roll out the census suppression policy. We will take that content down.
AOC: So you will — there is some threshold you will fact-check political advertisements. Is that what you’re telling me?
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, yes, for specific things like that whether where there’s imminent risk of harm.
AOC: Could I run ads targeting republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal?
ZUCKERBERG: Can you repeat that?
AOC: Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal? If you’re not fact-checking political advertisements I’m trying to understand the bounds here of what’s fair game.
ZUCKERBERG: I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head.
AOC: You don’t know if i’ll be able to do that. Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I think lying is bad. I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie that would be bad. That’s different from it being — in our position, the right thing to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.
AOC: So you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? It’s a pretty simple yes or no.
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, in most cases, in a democracy I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for for themselves.
AOC: You won’t take them down? You may flag that it’s wrong, but you won’t take it down.
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, it depends on the context that it shows up, organic post, ads.
AOC: One question. In your ongoing dinner parties with far right figures, some who advanced the conspiracy theory that white supremacy is a hoax, did you discuss social media bias against conservatives and do you believe there’s a bias?
ZUCKERBERG: (Stutters a bit, stalls…)
AOC: I’ll move on. Can you explain why you named the Daily Caller, a well-documented with with ties to white supremacists as an official fact checker for Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Sure. We don’t appoint the independent fact checkers. They go through an independent organization called the Independent Fact Checking Network that has a rigorous standard for who they allow to use as a fact checker.
AOC: So you would say that white supremacist-tied publications meet a rigorous standard for fact checking?
ZUCKERBERG: I would say we’re not the one assessing that standard. The international fact-checking network is the one who is setting that standard.
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