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 ZuckerbergActivists protest Facebook's 'failure' on disinformation with body bags outside DC office Budowsky: How Biden can defeat COVID-19 for good White House looks to cool battle with Facebook 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 KingLineup for Central Park 'Homecoming' concert includes Springsteen, LL Cool J, New York Philharmonic Ta-Nehisi Coates to join Howard University faculty Nikole Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer for position at Howard University 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 WarrenPelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure Millennial momentum means trouble for the GOP Briahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' 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-CortezThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Ocasio-Cortez, Bush criticize lack of diversity among negotiators on latest infrastructure deal Fetterman slams Sinema over infrastructure: 'Democrats need to vote like Democrats' 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.