Ocasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg ‘bear partial responsibility’ for insurrection
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday condemned Facebook as well as co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for misinformation posted on the platform, arguing that both Zuckerberg and his company “bear partial responsibility” for the deadly Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol.
In her monthly livestream town hall for constituents, the progressive congresswoman said that while Facebook is “trying to do as much damage control as possible” following the mob attack by removing accounts posting false information about the 2020 election, which served as the basis for the violent demonstration, Ocasio-Cortez said the effects of online misinformation were “coming for a long time.”
“I believe that this is directly connected to the complete lack of accountability that monopolies like Facebook have to democracy,” the New York representative said in the virtual event, adding that the social media giant “knew” there was misinformation on its platform and “allowed it” anyway.
Ocasio-Cortez then referenced a viral moment in an October 2019 congressional hearing when she questioned Zuckerberg on the potential for widespread misinformation in political ads, with the congresswoman on Friday saying that this should have prompted the Facebook head to take action ahead of the 2020 election.
“Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook bear partial responsibility for Wednesday’s events. Period,” she argued. “We knew this was a problem. We knew this so far out that, pre-COVID, I asked him specifically about election disinformation and its ties on Facebook to white supremacist organizations and the ties that Facebook’s fact-checking organizations have to other white supremacist outlets so that they could avoid being flagged and taken down.
“There’s a very clear link here,” the congresswoman added.
Following the violent mob, Facebook announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump’s account at least until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration to limit the possibility of the further spread of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of a “stolen” election.
Facebook on Friday announced that it is no longer allowing people to create new events near the White House, the Capitol or state Capitols until after the inauguration, with the FBI warning of possible future violence amid the presidential transition.
This came after Facebook said Monday it would take down content containing the phrase “Stop the Steal” under its Coordinating Harm policy after the deadly riot at the Capitol last week. The phrase had been used to promote debunked claims about widespread election fraud, which were boosted by Trump and other Republican lawmakers ahead of the insurrection.
However, an analysis released Thursday by nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz found that 90 groups on Facebook promoting debunked election claims remained on the platform as of Wednesday.
Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly called on social media platforms to take action in preventing the spread of false information online and on Tuesday said in an Instagram Live Q&A that she was exploring media literacy initiatives in the wake of the Capitol mob attack.
“We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said in the video. “It’s one thing to have differing opinions, but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false.”
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