Facebook took a strong and controversial stand this week, refusing to remove a doctored viral video that was meant to make Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appear drunk as she spoke. The company said its policy is to let users decide for themselves whether or not content is true.
While Facebook isn’t removing the video entirely, it did promise to “heavily reduce” its distribution in users’ News Feeds, provided with additional context by fact-checkers. However, that’s not enough to satisfy many of Facebook’s prominent critics, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner.
“[These] large platforms do not have clear policies or procedures in place to address viral misinformation like this — now imagine what’s going to happen as more sophisticated tools and techniques for doctoring videos become widely available,” Warner said in a statement. “We need to put guardrails in place to help avoid a major crisis of confidence. This includes targeting major issues around transparency, privacy, and accountability on social media platforms.”
Facebook has worked relentlessly to improve its public image when it comes to spam and security, so it’s curious that it came down here on the side of bad actors. It’s understandable why the company doesn’t want to act as the arbiter of truth, but that is the responsibility it has assumed — whether it wants it or not.
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