Biden campaign calls on Facebook to change political speech rules

Biden campaign calls on Facebook to change political speech rules
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Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report Maxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' MORE's presidential campaign on Thursday called for Facebook to change its rules about posts from politicians and to strengthen its policies against election-related misinformation.

In an open letter from the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump order targets TikTok, WeChat | TikTok fires back | Chinese firms hit hard in aftermath Female lawmakers pressure Facebook to crack down on disinformation targeting women leaders Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE, the campaign urged Facebook to make changes to the platform's hands-off approach to political speech.

The letter calls on Facebook to "proactively stem the tide of false information" by fact-checking election-related material that goes viral.

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It also urges the social media platform to fact-check political ads two weeks before elections. Facebook has faced intense criticism for not subjecting ads from political candidates to fact-checking.

Finally, the letter asks Facebook to apply clear rules prohibiting threatening behavior or lies and how to participate in an election.

The campaign is asking supporters to sign a petition backing the same changes.

"With fewer than five months until the 2020 election, real changes to Facebook's policies for their platform and how they enforce them are necessary to protect against a repeat of the role that disinformation played in the 2016 election and that continues to threaten our democracy today," campaign spokesman Bill Russo said in a statement to The Hill. "We are urging our supporters to make their voices heard in this call for change."

Facebook responded to the letter and petition in a blog post, saying it is up to lawmakers to make rules surrounding political speech.

"Just as they have done with broadcast networks — where the US government prohibits rejecting politicians’ campaign ads — the people’s elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them," the company wrote.

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"There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it."

Biden's effort to increase pressure on Facebook to take a harder line on political speech is relatively tame.

Lawmakers have previously called for the platform to fact-check all political ads, not just two weeks before elections.

The changes proposed in the letter would also have no effect on another fight at Facebook: Whether to apply warnings to – or even delete – posts by the president that are deemed to glorify violence.

Zuckerberg has come under intense internal and external criticism in recent weeks for leaving up a post where Trump said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in response to demonstrations in Minneapolis over the killing of George Floyd.

Twitter placed a warning on the tweet and limited how users could interact with it, while Snapchat stopped promoting the president's account on its Discover page.