Facebook Says It 'Will Protect Political Speech' After Biden Campaign Calls For Fact-Checking

Facebook responded Thursday to an open letter from former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign saying it "will protect political speech" in response to requests to take a stronger stance on fact-checking political content.

"We live in a democracy, where the elected officials decide the rules around campaigns. Two weeks ago the President of the United States issued an executive order directing federal agencies to prevent social media sites from engaging in activities like fact-checking political statements," Facebook said in a statement hours after receiving the letter from Biden campaign demanding that they fact-check political posts.

"This week, the Democratic candidate for President started a petition calling on us to do the exact opposite. Just as they have done with broadcast networks — where the U.S. government prohibits rejecting politicians' campaign ads — the people's elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them. There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it," Facebook said.

Biden's campaign published the open letter calling for Facebook to implement several recommendations, including "fact-checking election related material that goes viral" and fact-checking all political ads that run two weeks prior to Election Day.

"Anything less will render Facebook a tool of misinformation that corrodes our democracy. Facebook has promised better. And American voters deserve better," the Biden campaign stated in their letter.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a May 28 CNBC interview that he does not believe that social networks should be "arbiters of truth" after Twitter placed advisories on multiple tweets from President Donald Trump concerning mail-in ballot fraud, which prompted the president's executive order calling for social media companies to be held liable for user-generated content if they continue to act as publishers and not platforms.

"We've been pretty clear on what I think the right approach is, which is I don't think that Facebook, or internet platforms in general, should be arbiters of truth. I think that's kind of a dangerous line to get down to in terms of deciding what is true and what isn't," Zuckerberg said in his CNBC interview.

"Political speech is one of the most sensitive parts in a democracy, and people should be able to see what politicians say. There is a ton of scrutiny already. Political speech is the most scrutinized speech already by a lot of the media, and I think that will continue," Zuckerberg said.

The Facebook CEO went on to say that there are guidelines that will be enforced no matter where it comes from, particularly when it comes to harming individuals, but that there should be "a special deference to political speech."

Newsweek reached out to the Biden campaign for comment, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

 US-POLITICS-TRUMP-TWITTER
This illustration picture shows social media applications logos from Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images) Olivier Douliery/Getty