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Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter knocks Zuckerberg for invoking her father while defending Facebook

Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter knocks Zuckerberg for invoking her father while defending Facebook
© Aaron Schwartz

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., reminded Facebook founder and CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra changes names Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE what her father stood for after Zuckerberg invoked the civil rights leader while defending the social media company on Thursday.

During a speech in Washington, D.C., defending the platform, Zuckerberg twice referenced the civil rights era and MLK when advocating for “free expression” on Facebook, drawing a sharp response from Bernice King.

“I’d like to help Facebook better understand the challenges #MLK faced from disinformation campaigns launched by politicians. These campaigns created an atmosphere for his assassination,” she tweeted Thursday, just hours after Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University. 

“In times of social turmoil, our impulse is often to pull back on free expression. We want the progress that comes from free expression, but not the tension,” Zuckerberg said in the speech. “We saw this when Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from Birmingham Jail, where he was unconstitutionally jailed for protesting peacefully.”

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The Facebook CEO also referenced "efforts to shut down campus protests against the Vietnam War" and Americans' views during World War I.

Zuckerberg's rare public appearance followed Facebook’s controversial decision to allow politicians to run political advertisements on the platform that contain false or misleading claims.

He lamented in an interview with The Washington Post before the event that it is “something we have to live with.”

Zuckerberg and Facebook have faced criticism from lawmakers over the social media giant's role in allowing disinformation to thrive on its platform.

“We are at a crossroads,” Zuckerberg said during the speech. “We can either stand for free expression ... or we can decide the cost is simply too great. We must continue to stand for free expression.”

Facebook most recently faced backlash from Democratic presidential candidates after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE’s reelection campaign aired an advertisement on the platform that accuses former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump Cruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge MORE of using his office to pressure Ukrainian officials to drop an investigation into a company where his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board. There is no evidence of illegal activity by Biden or his son.

In response, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis MORE (D-Mass.) ran her own campaign ad that falsely claims that Zuckerberg supports Trump for reelection.