Nigel Farage Roasts Zuckerberg For Facebook’s Political Bias
Former United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage confronted Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg about the social media platform’s political bias on Tuesday.
Zuckerberg took questions from many leaders around Europe during his testimony to the European Parliament on Tuesday, and Farage wasted no time getting to his point.
“Time and again, people asked you (Mark Zuckerberg) ‘Is [Facebook] genuinely a neutral political platform?'” Farage asked Zuckerberg, referring to Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s questions to the Facebook CEO on April 10 during his Senate testimony.
Farage, who is a member of the European Parliament, grilled what he called Zuckerberg’s “well crafted” response, which was that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.
“What is absolutely true, is that since January of this year, you changed your modus operandi, you changed your algorithms, and it has led directly to a very substantial drop in views and engagements for those that have got right-of-center political opinions,” Farage said.
“We’re (Farage, President Donald Trump, and thousands of conservative commentators) down about 25 percent over the course of this year.” he added. “That’s happening on a platform for all ideas.” (RELATED: Zuckerberg ‘Sorry’ For Fake News On Facebook, Adding AI To Fight It)
There are widespread concerns that the company is over-censoring conservative content, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported. Facebook released a report on May 15 that shows it was able to remove more than 2 million “hate-speech” content in the first three months of 2018.
Farage semi-jokingly said to Zuckerberg that he is “the largest user of Facebook in all the EU institutions in terms of followers, in terms of engagements, so I’m your best client here in the room.”
“I’m not talking… about extremism. I’m not talking about encouraging violence. I’m not talking about hatred of anybody,” Farage said. “I’m talking about people who have majority mainstream opinions. And frankly I feel they are being willfully discriminated against.”
Farage floated the idea of “a social media bill of rights to basically protect free speech.”
In his response to Farage, Zuckerberg regurgitated the claim that Facebook is “committed to being a platform for all ideas.”
“I can commit to you here today that we… have never and will not make decisions about what content is allowed, or how we do ranking, on the basis of a political orientation. So that’s an important philosophical point for me that I’m proud to be able to commit to,” he said.
As far as why Trump, Farage, and conservative commentators have lost engagement, Zuckerberg said that he has made changes to Facebook so that users see friends’, family, and community content “more than public content in general.”
“That has led to reductions in distribution for public content, video, news, across the board and is not targeting any specific political ideology,” he added.
Part of the reason behind the decision to show friends’ and family content is for the “well-being” of users, Zuckerberg said.
“All the research that we have shows that when you’re using the internet to stay connect to people that you care — that’s good for your well being,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s correlated with… increased measures of health and happiness and feeling more connected and less alone.”
He added that using Facebook or the internet just to read news or passively consume videos, that isn’t correlated with increased benefits of users’ well-being.
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