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Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey disagree on fact checking the president

Zuckerberg said it's wrong for companies to become the 'arbiter of truth.'
Karissa Bell, @karissabe
May 28, 2020
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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11:  Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg has waded into Twitter’s spat with Donald Trump over the decision to fact-check his tweets. In an interview with Fox News Thursday, Zuckerberg repeated that he doesn’t believe social media platforms should become the “arbiter of truth.”

“We have a different policy than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg said in comments that first aired Wednesday. “I believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies, or especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that. “

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey fired back in a series of tweets. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. 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. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”

Twitter subsequently labeled hundreds more tweets with fact-checking labels, the New York Times reported.

In the same interview with Fox News, Zuckerberg said he believes Facebook has a “stronger” record on defending free speech than other companies, but didn’t provide evidence of that claim. Facebook works with dozens of fact-checking organizations, but doesn’t allow posts from politicians to be fact checked — a policy that has been widely criticized.

Twitter didn’t place limits on Trump’s tweets about election fraud or make them less visible. Instead the company added a label, telling users to “get the facts” about mail-in ballots, and linked to publications that had fact-checked the claims. A Twitter spokesperson said the labels were added because the comments were “potentially misleading.”

Zuckerberg’s criticism comes as Trump signed an executive order that will attempt to put new restrictions on how social media platforms moderate content. It’s unclear how the order will be enforced, or how much impact it would ultimately have. 

The Facebook CEO, who had a private dinner with the president last year, said he doesn’t believe it’s the “right reflex” to place limits on social media companies. “In general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there,” he said.

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