Zuckerberg admits Facebook publishes ads containing lies

Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the social network’s policy of publishing campaign ads that contain false statements or lies and claimed that people will just have to live with it and decide for themselves what is true and what is not true.

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington on Thursday, Zuckerberg admitted that he is concerned about the “erosion of truth” in society and online, but he rejected the idea that his firm and other tech companies should be the ones to decide whether info placed on the social networks is accurate or not, Efe news reported.

“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true,” he said, adding that he does not believe that a “private company (should) censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

It is the public who “should decide what is credible, not tech companies,” the Facebook CEO said.

He said that there were exceptions to that general rule, asserting that Facebook was not going to allow content to be posted that incites violence or poses an imminent risk of harm.

He said that people place ads on Facebook about many more things than elections, and that poses a challenge on where to draw the line at what is allowed.

“I believe that when it’s not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression,” he said, going on to say that prohibiting election ads would favor incumbents or candidates seeking re-election.

“Do we ban ads about health care or immigration or women’s empowerment? And if you’re not going to ban those, does it really make sense to give everyone a voice in the political debates except for the candidates themselves?” asked Zuckerberg.

The Facebook CEO’s remarks come after Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted ads on the social network in which she incorrectly declared that Zuckerberg supports President Donald Trump’s re-election.

Warren, who admits that the claim made in the ads is not correct, has harshly criticized the monopoly held on the social networks by the big tech companies and called for their breakup.

In his speech, Zuckerberg said that if the government and online platforms jointly addressed issues like data privacy, data portability, content and elections critics would be less likely to try and break up big tech firms.

“If that at happens, I don’t think people will end up concluding that breaking up the companies is the right thing to do,” he said.

The biggest controversy Facebook has faced in recent years came in March 2018 when it became known that British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used an application to gather data on millions of Facebook users without their consent and then used that data for political ends.

The firm used the data to prepare psychological profiles of voters that it allegedly sold to the then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign before the 2016 election, among other things.

The revelation led the Menlo Park, California-based firm to launch an investigation into how apps use the data of Facebook users, and this led to the suspension of thousands of apps that did not adhere to the firm’s use rules.

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