Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was mocked widely on social media Wednesday night after being grilled by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Facebook’s policies on political ads and having little to say in response.
Zuckerberg appeared before the House Financial Services Committee to discuss Facebook’s new crypto-currency, Libra, but during the session, members of the committee also questioned Zuckerberg about other troubling Facebook issues. Including AOC, who used her turn to bring up the social media giant’s policy of not removing political ads containing lies or fact-checking politicians, leading to a conversation that frequently appeared to fluster the Facebook CEO.
The congresswoman asked Zuckerberg if she could buy ads with outright lies about her political opponents.
“You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year,” she asked.
Zuckerberg first said Facebook would remove political content “that is calling for violence, or could risk imminent physical harm, or voter or census suppression.” But after some more back and forth, Ocasio-Cortez became more direct.
“Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “I mean, if you’re not fact-checking political advertisements, I’m just trying to understand the bounds here, what’s fair game.”
Zuckerberg replied that he didn’t have the answer “off the top of my head,” but after some more prodding said, “I think probably.”
“Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?” Ocasio-Cortez retorted?
Zuckerberg’s halting reply: “Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie in it, that would be bad. That’s different from it being, from it, in our position, the right thing to do to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.”
“So you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? It’s just a pretty simple yes or no,” Oscaio-Cortez continued, adding that she’s “not talking about ‘spin.'”
“Yes, in most cases in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying,” Zuckerberg said.
Watch the exchange above:
"So, you won't take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that's just a pretty simple yes or no."
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 23, 2019
On Twitter, critics let loose.
completely befuddled. pic.twitter.com/n0RjyZZvQ1
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 23, 2019
AOC kind of tying Zuckerberg in knots here on political ads.
Q: Can I run ads telling voters the wrong election date?
Q: So you are fact-checking politics ads?
Z: For specific things.
Q: Can I run ads in GOP primaries saying they backed my Green New Deal?
Z: I don't know.
— Pete Schroeder (@peteschroeder) October 23, 2019
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) October 23, 2019
"So you WILL take down lies or you WON'T take down lies?" @AOC runs Zuckerberg through a series of hypothetical ads she could run with lies in them, and he can't say if they'd stay up. pic.twitter.com/wlqqvZOvWy
— Alexis Goldstein ???? (@alexisgoldstein) October 23, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg is woefully inept.
— jordan (@JordanUhl) October 23, 2019
Representatives for Facebook didn’t immediately reply to a request for additional comment on the exchange.