Facebook CEO defends site's policy on fake news

Posted: July 19, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, recently defended the company's decision to keep on its platform the site Infowars, a prominent right-wing outlet known for spreading conspiracy theories and baseless information.

Zuckerberg said in an interview published by Recode on Wednesday that Facebook has a responsibility to curb the viral spread of hoaxes and blatant misinformation. But he maintained Facebook should not ban publishers for spreading false claims.

Zuckerberg said if people flag posts as potential hoaxes, Facebook will send the content to fact-checkers who can verify the claims. If the posts are false, Facebook will "significantly reduce the distribution of that content" in the News Feed, he said.

"Reducing the distribution of misinformation -- rather than removing it outright -- strikes the right balance between free expression and a safe and authentic community," Facebook said in a statement Wednesday. The company said that in coming months it will change its policies to allow the social network to remove certain types of misinformation that contribute to physical harm.

Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, also said people who deny the Holocaust happened should be allowed to stay on the social network, too. "I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong," he said. Zuckerberg added it's difficult to understand a person's intent. He said Facebook shouldn't ban people from the network even if they spread false information on multiple occasions.

Zuckerberg later clarified to Recode on Wednesday afternoon, "I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that."

A Section on 07/19/2018