Pelosi blasts Facebook, ties refusal to take down video to Russian meddling

Pelosi blasts Facebook, ties refusal to take down video to Russian meddling
© Aaron Schwartz

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday blasted Facebook's refusal to take down a doctored video of her, using the incident to accuse the tech giant of being a "willing enabler" of Russia's election interference.

"I think they [Facebook] have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election,” Pelosi said in an interview with California radio station KQED News.

Pelosi was referring to a doctored video of her that had been slowed down to make her appear to be slurring her words or intoxicated. The video was posted on Facebook last week and has since been viewed more than 2.8 million times.

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Facebook decided not to remove the video, but told The Hill that its fact-checkers had flagged the video as false and were downgrading its distribution in the Facebook news feed.

Facebook spokesperson defended the decision before a group of international lawmakers in Ottawa, Canada, on Tuesday, saying that “it is our policy to inform people when we have information that might be false on the platform so they can make their own decisions about that content.”

Pelosi said Wednesday that while she “can take it,” her issue was with Facebook “lying to the public” by allowing the video to stay up.

Pelosi added that Facebook not taking down the doctored video called into question the company’s assertion that it was the victim of Russian online interference that was meant to sway the 2016 presidential election.

"We have said all along, 'Poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians,'” Pelosi said. “I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it's wrong.”

Multiple Democrats in the House and Senate have heavily criticized Facebook for its decision. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Md.) told The Hill on Wednesday that he “believes this video – and any dishonestly doctored video that is widespread and misleading the public – should be taken down.”

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon Bipartisan senators call on FERC to protect against Huawei threats Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Hill earlier this week that Congress needs to put “guardrails in place” to prevent a “crisis of confidence” in what consumers see on social media platforms.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJudge temporarily halts construction of a private border wall in Texas Hillicon Valley: FCC moves against Huawei, ZTE | Dem groups ask Google to reconsider ads policy | Bill introduced to increase data access during probes House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues MORE (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, labeled the doctored video of Pelosi “vile partisan trash” and added that it is a “sad omen of what is to come in the 2020 election season.”