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Zuckerberg on allowing political ads: 'People should be able to judge for themselves'

Zuckerberg on allowing political ads: 'People should be able to judge for themselves'
© Greg Nash

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHouse Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Hillicon Valley: Trump refuses to condemn QAnon | Twitter revises its policy, lets users share disputed article | Google sees foreign cyber threats MORE is defending the company’s policy against removing political advertising that contains misinformation, telling CBS News that the network’s users “should be able to judge for themselves.”

“It's really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their own judgments,” Zuckerberg told CBS's Gayle KingGayle KingKentucky attorney general asks for evidence in Breonna Taylor case to remain sealed Breonna Taylor's boyfriend: 'I never thought it was the police' at door Gayle King calls out Pelosi for calling Trump supporters 'henchmen': 'Egregious language' MORE in a joint interview with his wife, Priscilla Chan. “And, you know, I don't think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”

King pressed the CEO on criticisms the policy has faced, including nearly 200 Facebook employees who wrote a letter arguing that “free speech and paid speech are not the same.”

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"Well, this is a clearly a very complex issue, and a lot of people have — have a lot of different opinions," Zuckerberg responded. "At the end of the day, I just think that in a democracy, people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying."

Pressed by King on whether that still applied in cases when the ads were spreading false claims, Zuckerberg repeated, “I think that people should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians.”

Facebook faced criticism earlier this year after it denied a request from former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove an ad being run by President Trump’s reelection campaign that questions Biden's role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor.

The video accuses Biden of offering military aid money to Ukraine if it agreed to remove the prosecutor investigating a company tied to his son, Hunter Biden. There is no evidence that Biden pushed for the prosecutor’s removal to protect his son.

Facebook said the ad could remain due to “Facebook's fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”

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Zuckerberg also addressed the potential ramifications of antitrust investigations into the social media giant. Forty-seven states and two federal agencies are currently probing whether the company is engaged in anti-competitive practices.

"There's no question that there are real issues that — that we need to keep on working on ... But I think it's important to not lose track of just the enormous good that can be done by bringing people together and building community," Zuckerberg said.

The interview comes as numerous politicians and presidential candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenJustice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersOcasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting Calls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters MORE (I-Vt.), have sharply criticized the social media giant and have called big tech companies to be broken up.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting MORE (D-N.Y.) earlier this year in a public hearing questioned Zuckerberg on the extent of false information a candidate would be permitted to spread on Facebook under its guidelines.