Anderson Cooper to Facebook Exec: ‘Shouldn’t You Just Get Out of the News Business’?

“We think the right approach is to let people make an informed choice,” says Facebook’s head of global policy management

Last Updated: May 25, 2019 @ 4:36 PM

CNN’s Anderson Cooper grilled Facebook exec Monika Bickert Friday night about the company’s decision to not delete from its site a doctored video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, ultimately asking Bickert, “If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

The Fox Business video that triggered the line of questioning and then retweeted by President Trump Thursday night was footage of Pelosi at a news conference earlier that day. Although it appears as if the video was slowed down to make it sound as if she was stuttering, the network said in a statement, “The Fox Business segment featuring clips from Speaker Pelosi’s speech today did not slow down any aspect of her address.”

In Cooper’s 8-minute long interview, Bickert, who serves as Facebook’s head of global policy management, emphasized that company policy does not warrant the deletion of the altered video despite it being shared by millions of people. The exec explained Facebook’s decision to instead label the video as misinformation and limit its distribution.

“Anybody who is seeing this video in their news feed, anybody who is going to share it to somebody else, anybody who has shared it in the past, they are being alerted that this video is false,” Bickert said, noting that it is up to the individual to make an informed choice about what they believe. “Our job is to make sure we’re getting them accurate information.”

Bickert went on to say that Facebook works with independent, internationally certified fact-checking organizations to make “decisions about whether something is true or false. And as soon as we get a rating from them that content is false, then we dramatically reduce the distribution of that content.”

Cooper questioned Facebook’s logic behind removing 3.39 billion fake Facebook accounts from October through March, but not removing one fake video. “Why is it okay for you to remove fake Facebook accounts, but it’s not okay to remove a clearly fake video?” he asked.

“When we remove fake accounts, we are also reducing the chance that these accounts will be sharing misinformation,” Bickert responded. “And I would point out that this is working.”

Cooper pressed further, saying,. “I understand it’s a big business to get into of trying to figure out what’s true or not, but you’re making money by being in the news business. If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

“We are not in the news business, we are in the social media business,” Bickert replied. “We have a site where people can come and share what they think, what is important to them…If it’s misinformation that’s related to safety, we can and we do remove it… but when we’re talking about political discourse and misinformation around that, we think the right approach is to let people make an informed choice.”

Watch the interview below:

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