When Elizabeth Warren wanted to publicly dismiss her lie (deliberately released), she paid Facebook for it. Warren, a Massachusetts Democratic senator and possible candidate in the 2020 presidential election, came out on Facebook in October with a series of videos claiming that the network’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is supporting Donald Trump for a second term. It wasn’t true, and Warren knew that. But he wanted to send a message – that the Facebook network policy, which states that he does not check or check election videos – is dangerous.
“If Trump tries to lie in a televised election video, most channels will refuse to broadcast. But Facebook will collect the money and post it, “says Warren’s video, which has garnered nearly half a million reactions on the social network.
The confusing and even damaging effects of political advertising will almost certainly be a big challenge for Facebook in the context of the 2020 presidential election. And they have already started to be. Warren indeed lied to tell his point, but even recently President Donald Trump has posted on Facebook videos claiming that one of his very likely counter-candidates, Joe Biden, would have intervened in Ukraine to remove a prosecutor who he was investigating a company that had ties to his son. The information has already been dismantled. CNN declined to broadcast the video. So did NBC and its other satellite channels.
The problem is that Facebook has allowed him to post. Likewise, Twitter, YouTube and, alongside them, a few television networks. But the impact Facebook has – 7 out of 10 US adults use Mark Zuckerberg’s platform, according to Pew Research Center data – and the background in spreading fake news ahead of the 2016 presidential election makes the network now extremely closely monitored.
After Trump released the video targeting Biden, his team immediately asked Facebook to remove him. The request was rejected. Warren reacted quickly and released his video, in which he deliberately lied to sound the alarm.
And Facebook has some problems to solve. Regulators claim that Zuckerberg’s network has become too strong. Conservatives think it is right for them. Nobody thinks it’s trustworthy anymore. It is an image crisis that is perpetuating itself and which it could solve quickly and easily – not to sell electoral content anymore.
It’s just that the time is no longer right. Candidate election campaigns for next year’s elections are well underway, and letting candidates use Facebook to push their messages is the safest way to capture the attention of hundreds of millions of Americans on the network.
Another argument is that the electorate, public opinion, must remain the arbiter of political information, as a response to Twitter sounds for Warren. “The FCC (Federal Communications Commission, no.) It does not want televisions to censor candidates’ speeches. We have decided that it is better to let the electorate – not the media companies – decide. ”
But Facebook has already signaled that it does not want to deal with political posts that inevitably reach. To manage the spread in the network in other forms of misinformation, including those in the electoral content, Zuckerberg’s company has teams of people whose job it is to verify information (so-called fact-checkers).
When it happens, Facebook algorithms expose that post too as few users as possible and attach an alert to those who plan to share it. It is an imperfect system, but even so, it does its job in a way, discouraging the creators of fake content and warning users of the platform that what they read is not really what it seems to be.
But it remains a problematic aspect – it is a system that does not apply to the posts of politicians, whether they are paid or not. It is a policy that Facebook began to apply more than a year ago, but that has only recently come to public attention, following the gulf between Trump and Warren.
Facebook claims it does not want anyone to take part in this dispute. “At Facebook, our role is to make sure we have a level playing field and not participate in any political way,” said Nick Clegg, vice president responsible for global communication with the American giant, in September.
It would be easier to understand Facebook’s willingness not to settle the problem of electoral content that misinforms and of the objection to which it is subject if, in doing so, the network would have a massive increase in profit. But that’s not the case. In 2016, in the presidential election campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton spent $ 81 million accumulating electoral content on Facebook.
In other words, 0.3% of the company’s annual revenues. The same thing happened in 2018, in the context of mid-term elections, when US politicians spent $ 284 million on publicizing election clips via Facebook, which is 0.5% of the company’s annual revenue, according to Tech for Campaigns estimates.
In early 2018, Mark Zuckerberg said that, in reality, Facebook will lose money from the distribution of electoral content because it will spend a lot of money to monitor and verify information from this type of posts.
Facebook executives continue to pore left and right, both in the public and private areas, that the company’s top priority is to honorably exit the presidential elections of 2020. In other words, in January 2021, when they look back, do not regret that Facebook has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
But if the electoral content remains unverified, the company will once again hit the truth – the platform has been used again to spread misinformation. This will be devastating for her reputation – this time she knew and has no excuse.