Bill Maher Says Facebook Making Voters 'Stupider,' Defends Zuckerberg Refusal to Fact-Check Politicians

HBO host Bill Maher ridiculed Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for creating a "stupider" culture of people who no longer read, but defended the social media network's decision not to fact-check political advertisements.

Maher, speaking Friday on his Real Time program, said the responsibility of "figuring out when politicians are full of s**t" falls on the American people and not on the policing methods of a tech company. The longtime comedian railed against Facebook's presence in society as a whole, joking that Zuckerberg himself is a "socially awkward" person who climbed to the top of the news business by creating a "hot-or-not" website in the early 2000s.

Maher questioned why the "#DeleteFacebook" movement died off because he believes the platform only allows people to stay in touch with the guy who "never left" your hometown.

"The people of planet Earth have to ask themselves one question: why did we put this guy in charge?" Maher said as the audience cackled in laughter. "Is he even one of us, a human? He looks like a first attempt at whittling a puppet. Why is the world's most socially awkward person in charge of social media?

"So maybe, now would be a good time to remember how the whole thing started and it wasn't because Zuckerberg had a 'calling,'" Maher continued. "He created a website which gave college dudes the chance to rate women from pictures he hacked from Harvard's databank. Yes, the most powerful man in the news business got there by inventing a hot-or-not site."

Maher then proceeded to defend Facebook for refusing to fact-check political advertisements, which became a rampant demand following the social media network's controversial role in influencing the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic National Committee last month blasted Facebook's decision not to "fact-check" statements by politicians, saying that puts President Donald Trump at an advantage because he has "an utter disregard for the truth."

"Now Zuckerberg has decided Facebook will not be policing political speech on their site, or fact-checking any political ads, and this only applies to politics," Maher said. "And I hate to tell you, but that's the way it should be. Do you want political speech policed by the accuracy regulation departments at Facebook and Twitter? Not me. I'm always going to come down on the side of free speech."

Maher said U.S. voters should learn how to critically analyze the information they come across instead of simply accepting what they read on Facebook as fact. Following the 2016 election, many tech experts and political pundits have pointed directly toward Facebook for the immense amount of outright false stories which pervaded the social media network and potentially swayed the opinions of a wide swath of voters.

"People have to build up an immunity to falsehoods — we can't pass the buck to a referee, because a referee is still human, and even if we used a computer to do it, [Donald] Trump would say the computer was an 'angry Democrat," the HBO host added.

The comedian mocked last year's "#DeleteFacebook" movement, which gained traction in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica and political bias scandals that rocked the social media giant. "Well it #DidntF**kingWork," Maher quipped. "Let's face it, social media is increasingly where the world gets its news."

Maher ribbed on a past news article which described how an Ohio couple was arrested after posting pictures of themselves following a bank robbery.

"That's because it makes you stupider, because there are only so many hours in a day, and you can get only so much accomplished, if you're constantly checking to see what everybody you ever met had for lunch," he said. "People are dumber because they read less. Facebook should be called Timesuck.

"You can't watch the news these days without seeing some story about Facebook — hosting Russian bots, selling user data, getting into cryptocurrency, refusing to fact-check political ads...and it keeps growing."

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Bill Maher ridiculed Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for creating a "stupider" culture of people who no longer read, but defended the social media network's decision not to fact-check political advertisements. Screenshot: YouTube | Real Time with Bill Maher