CNN anchor Anderson Cooper got heated during a Friday segment with Facebook executive Monika Bickert, at one point questioning whether the company should “get out of the news business” if it couldn’t do it well.
Cooper, referencing doctored videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that have been circulating on multiple social media platforms, wondered why Facebook wasn’t doing more to remove them. (RELATED: Pelosi Wants Trump’s Family To Stage An Intervention ‘For The Good Of The Country’)
“You have no problem removing 3.39 billion fake Facebook accounts from October through March,” Cooper said. “So why is it okay for you to remove fake Facebook accounts, but it’s not okay to remove a clearly fake video?”
Bickert, who serves as Facebook’s Vice President for Product Policy and Counterterrorism, explained that fake accounts were a broader problem and more likely to create safety issues.
“It’s a fundamental rule when you come to Facebook, you have to use your real identity. That’s always been our rule,” she explained. “And we do see that accounts that are fake are engaged in safety violations more than authentic accounts. And by the way, and this is probably not shocking, fake accounts are also more likely to distribute misinformation or fake news. And so part of our effort to combat misinformation, it’s not just about working with third-party fact checkers. When we remove fake accounts, we are also reducing the chance that these accounts will be sharing misinformation. And I would point out that this is working.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 25, 2019
Cooper pressed harder, 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?”
“I’m just saying, if you are — you are in this particular case, spreading and allowing the spread of a clearly false doctored video,” he continued. “Again, you’re in the news business. There’s a responsibility that comes with that. And this is, this isn’t even a question.”
“We aren’t in the news business,” Bickert responded, “We’re in the social media business.”
Cooper then argued that because individual users shared news on Facebook, Facebook became a de facto purveyor of the news.
Anderson Cooper sounds like he wants to live in North Korea. He’s begging Facebook to remove a satire video and chastising them for refusing because it insults his dear Supreme Leader Pelosi. How embarrassing. This is @CNN. https://t.co/SBm84326DH
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 25, 2019
But Bickert argued that the concern was — and should be — removing the content that posed an actual threat to safety.
“We would remove content that’s created by fake accounts. We would remove misinformation that’s created by fake accounts. And we would remove misinformation if it is related to a threat of safety on the grounds … We work with the fact-checking networks and we put that information proactively in front of people so they can make their own decisions,” she said.