Hundreds of Facebook employees send letter to Zuckerberg asking for changes to political ads policy
In brief: Zuckerberg’s recent speech hinted his company had made the right decision when laying out its strategy for the 2020 election, nevertheless hundreds of employees have signed an internal letter calling for policy changes. Many of them believe there’s a way to fix things before politicians turn the social platform into a worse place for news than it already is.
Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg held a speech in which he defended the company’s controversial policy decision that allows politicians to lie in ads as long as it’s “newsworthy.” Naturally, critics took issue with the fact that his company is trying to create a false image as a neutral platform while profiting from the virality of posts that spread hateful content and misinformation.
It turns out Facebook employees don’t all agree with the policies. According to the New York Times, over 250 of them sent a letter to Zuckerberg expressing their concerns, calling the recent decision “a threat to what Facebook stands for.” They argue that allowing politicians to spread misinformation runs contrary to the company’s own values, and would further damage its already weak public trust.
In the letter, sent through the company’s internal forum, they recommend at least six possible ways forward that would fix the loophole-ridden policy and prevent politicians from weaponizing the platform by “targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”
While Zuckerberg has defended the policy as a way to ensure Facebook remains a platform for free speech and a level playing field for everyone involved, the employees would like the company to ban false political ads in the same way it bans other types of ads that break the rules. Otherwise, Facebook could visually distinguish political ads from other, non-paid content on the newsfeed, and restrict their targeting abilities to prevent echo chambers.
Other proposed changes include spending caps for individual politicians as a way to stay true to the promise of providing a level playing field, and making sure the public knows about and understands how every new policy change affects what they see in their newsfeed. Facebook could improve things even further if it observed election silence periods to allow voters to reflect on events before casting their votes.
Of course, a combination of all the proposed approaches would work wonders for improving the sanity of the social platform. A Facebook spokesperson noted the company is still standing by its decision to not censor political speech, but that it is willing to explore some additional steps to improve things. Judging from the company’s recent decision to suspend a stunt ad that came from a third-party and contained misinformation on Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, it’s entirely possible that Facebook is willing to change course, if ever so slightly.