Zuckerberg Says Twitter Is Wrong to Fact-Check Trump

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized Twitter on Wednesday after the microblogging platform fact-checked a tweet of President Donald Trump's that claimed mail-in voting increases voter fraud.

Twitter tagged Trump's tweets with the message reading, "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." The message linked to a page contradicting Trump's assertions. Studies have not shown evidence of widespread voter fraud via absentee ballots in the past. Twitter's action marked the first time the platform has ever marked any of Trump's tweets as misleading.

"We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this," Zuckerberg told Dana Perino, host of the Fox News show The Daily Briefing, in an interview clip. The full interview is expected to air on Thursday.

"I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. In general, private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that," Zuckerberg added.

Perino said that Zuckerberg told her that Facebook refuses to intervene in censoring public posts unless there's a threat of imminent harm. She added that Facebook is "hands off" when it comes to political speech.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. Gerard Julien / AFP

Facebook, under fire for spreading divisive material and misinformation largely shelved an effort to make conversations on the platform more civil, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook executives viewed the effort as "paternalistic" and were worried about accusations of censorship from the right, the paper said.

"We've built a robust integrity team, strengthened our policies and practices to limit harmful content and used research to understand our platform's impact on society so we continue to improve. Just this past February we announced $2M in funding to support independent research proposals on polarization," a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge when asked about the report.

Trump is expected to sign an executive order addressing social media companies on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday evening, though she offered no additional details on what the order might say. However, two of Trump's allies in Congress told Newsweek the order may strip Twitter of the special speech liability immunity it receives because of the fact-checking flap.

"Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can't let a more sophisticated version of that happen again."

In addition, the president's son, Eric Trump, criticized recently resurfaced tweets from Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter, that compared White House senior counsellor Kellyanne Conway to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945.

The same day, Trump also accused Twitter of attempting to interfere in the 2020 election.

"@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election," Trump tweeted Wednesday in response to Twitter fact-checking him. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Newsweek reached out to Facebook for comment. This story will be updated with any response.