Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that Facebook algorithmically censored the ‘Hunter Biden laptop’ story for a week. He admitted it on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast. Zuckerberg said he did so following a general request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to restrict election misinformation.
During the podcast, Joe Rogan asked Zuckerberg how Facebook handles controversial issues like the ‘Hunter Biden’ story and whether it was censored.
In response, Zuckerberg said, “So we took a different path than Twitter. I mean, basically, the background here is the FBI basically came to us…some folks on our team. They were like, hey, just so you know…you should be high alert. We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we have it on notice. That’s basically…there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.”
Zuckerberg, while coming down heavily on Twitter for completely blacking out the story, admitted that they did censor the story on Facebook, decreasing its reach.
“So our protocol is different from Twitter. What Twitter did is…they said… you can’t share this at all. We didn’t do that. What we did was…if something is reported to us as potential misinformation…important misinformation, we also run third-party fact-checking programs because we don’t want to be deciding what’s true and false and…I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false, the distribution of Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it,” He said.
“So you can still share it, you could still consume it,” he added, after which Joe Rogan interrupted and asked whether the distribution of the story was decreased.
Zuckerberg responded: “Basically the ranking and newsfeed was a little bit less, so fewer people saw it than would have otherwise.”
He later said, “We got a lot of complaints…this is a hyper-political issue. So depending on what side of the political spectrum you think we didn’t censor it enough or censored it way too much, we weren’t as black and white about it as Twitter.”
Meanwhile, amid the controversy, Republicans accused Facebook of suppressing conservative voices.
“We kind of thought, hey, look if the FBI which I view as a legitimate institution in this country…they come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something, then I want to take that seriously,” said Zuckerberg.
According to New York Post, more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed on to a letter that claimed the laptop story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
Zuckerberg regretted Facebook’s response to the story when Joe Rogan asked, “is there regret for not having it evenly distributed and for throttling the distribution of that story?”
He said, “Yeah, it sucks…it turned out after the fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false…I think it sucks, though, in the same way, that probably having to go through a criminal trial but being proven innocent in the end sucks.”
In 2020, New York Post did an expose that revealed the existence of tens of thousands of emails between Biden’s son Hunter and business associates from Ukraine. New York Post, in the expose, claimed the emails revealed how Biden’s son leveraged his political access in his overseas business dealings.
The New York Times reported that Biden’s presidential campaign rejected the New York Post report about Joseph R Biden Jr. and his son Hunter.
“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, was quoted as saying.
Three weeks before the presidential elections in the US, New York Post’s op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari revealed that Twitter was no longer allowing him to post stories that detail “corruption by a major-party presidential candidate, Biden”.
Following Twitter not allowing the New York Post’s article on Biden, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter and wrote, “So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of “Smoking Gun” emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)