Warner calls Facebook's political ad fact-checking policy 'ludicrous'

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill MORE (D-Va.) is doubling down on his calls for Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens How social media fuels U.S. political polarization — what to do about it Democrats, unions pour cash into California recall fight MORE to reconsider the company’s policy on political advertising, calling the current system "ludicrous" and "short-sighted."

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said even though the social media giant will continue to fact-check ads that are run by political parties and other third-parties, he said the same rule should be applied to political candidates.

“Do we really want to coarsen our already coarse political debate with Facebook allowing this to take place?” Warner asked during an interview on Tuesday.

“This is ludicrous, I think it is short-sighted and I just hope they’ll recognize that they made a mistake, call a timeout and reconsider,” he added.

This is not the first time Warner has urged Zuckerberg to rethink the new ad policy. 

The Virginia senator sent a letter to tech executive on Monday night, saying that "Facebook's apparent lack of foresight or concern for the possible damages by this policy concerns me." He also demanded that the company provide more details on the change and how it planned to avert the potential negative effects of the policy shift. 

His comments come a week after lawmakers grilled the tech executive over the social platform’s new ad policy. 

During a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezConservative group files ethics complaint over Ocasio-Cortez appearance at Met Gala If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) asked Zuckerberg a series of hypothetical questions, including whether she could run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they supported the Green New Deal.

Zuckerberg said that while lying was “bad,” he argued that such a move would depend on the context of where the ad appears.

The tech executive has repeatedly defended Facebook’s lack of fact-checking on political ads. He has maintained that the company should not be in a position to moderate content, saying such a move could be “dangerous.”

“Political ads on Facebook are more transparent than anywhere else,” Zuckerberg said during a speech at Georgetown University earlier this month. “We don’t fact-check political ads… because we believe people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying."

But Warner pushed back against Zuckerberg’s claims, saying that cable news has already set a precedent for how misinformation should be handled.

“While it is an imperfect process, there’s already a precedent that operates on the basis of cable news for political candidate ads,” he told Hill.TV. “Instead they took the precedent set by broadcast TV, which has a different set of rules since they receive an FCC [Federal Communications Commission] license.”

Criticism of the Facebook policy mounted this month after the company allowed a Trump campaign ad to remain on the platform despite criticism that it made unfounded allegations against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE, a Democratic presidential candidate.

—Tess Bonn