House

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

Aaron Schwartz

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (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.

{mosads}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 Hoyer (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 Warner (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 Thompson (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.”

Tags Bennie Thompson doctored video Facebook Mark Warner Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer

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