SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/CNN) — Bay Area tech giants Facebook and Twitter drew fire from both sides of the political spectrum Thursday while bracing for a possible executive order from President Donald Trump over monitoring political messaging on their platforms.
A day after Twitter’s fact-check flagging of two Trump posts drew the President’s ire, he opened the day tweeting — “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”
There was growing anticipation that Trump would use his executive powers on Thursday to issue an order involving social media.
If Facebook and Twitter executives were hoping Democrats would work as a buffer to the President’s criticism, those hopes were dashed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who voiced her own concerns about social media’s role in the upcoming election.
“It’s an outrageous situation,” Pelosi said during a morning news conference. “While Twitter is putting up its fact-check on what the President says about voting, they still won’t take off the misrepresentations the President is putting out there on the death of a gentleman whose wife died…So it’s yes we like Twitter to put up their fact-check the President but it seems to be selective, very selective.”
“Of course, you know my view of this and I’ve said it before — Facebook, all of them, they are all about making money. Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts that they know. And they defend that. I think Facebook has made tens of billions of dollars during this time when people are so reliance on social media. And they have testified that they have no responsibility for the truth.”
When asked about further regulation, Pelosi said: “What they all are is somebody who is avoiding taxes and regulation. And that’s what they are about…All they want is to not pay taxes — they got their tax break in 2017 — the tax scam that gave all the advantages to the high end and they don’t want to be regulated. So they pander to the White House.”
She particularly took aim at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments aired by Fox News on Wednesday.
“You see what Facebook (CEO Mark) Zuckerberg is saying today about all this,” she said. “He just panders — tax cuts, no regulation, our business model is to misrepresent the facts and to be a platform to do that and try to hide under Freedom of Speech.”
In his comments aired of Fox, Zuckerberg appeared to be critical of Twitter’s fact-checking actions.
“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg said. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”
Hours later, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared to push back at the assertion, saying that labeling the tweets with fact checks does not make the social media company an “arbiter of truth.”
“Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions,” Dorsey tweeted Wednesday night.
Others were even more direct. In a series of tweets on Wednesday, former Twitter executive Jason Goldman called Zuckerberg’s statement to Fox News a “bad quote” and added: “Going on Fox to hit Twitter in defense of Trump is really a move. Good look for everyone involved.”
The public clashes between the two companies further cast aside the unified front the tech industry previously tried to present in how it handles misinformation.
The Trump tweets in question falsely claimed that the governor of California was sending out mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” Twitter labeled them with a message urging users to “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.”
Twitter’s message directly linked to a curated fact-checking page populated with journalists and news article summaries debunking the claim.
Facebook chose to do nothing, even though identical posts appeared on the platform. The company has previously said that politicians are exempt from its third-party fact-checking program.
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