Republican Sen. Josh Hawley claims that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted to him during a meeting Thursday that there “clearly was bias” when it came to Facebook’s labeling of videos posted by pro-life nonprofit Live Action as “false news.”
The 39-year-old Hawley of Missouri met with Zuckerberg in Capitol Hill to discuss a number of issues regarding the social media giant. Afterward, Hawley, a prominent critic big tech, took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the meeting.
“Had a frank conversation,” he tweeted. “Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition.”
Hawley said that he urged Zuckerberg to sell WhatsApp and Instagram — social media platforms owned by Facebook. Hawley also said he urged Zuckerberg to submit the company to a third-party audit on censorship. However, Zuckerberg was said to have refused both requests.
In another tweet, Hawley detailed that he and Zuckerberg talked about Facebook’s treatment of Live Action, an organization that stands against abortion and is run by prominent activist Lila Rose.
In August, Facebook marked two Live Action videos in which the claim is made that abortion is “never medically necessary” as “false news” based on a recommendation from a team of fact-checkers. Two members of the fact-checking team used to make this judgment are abortion doctors with ties to abortion-rights advocacy organizations.
As a result, Live Action’s reach on Facebook was reduced.
Hawley explained to reporters after the meeting that Zuckerberg told him that “they made a mistake” when it came to Live Action.
"Those were his words,” Hawley was quoted as saying. “He said there was clearly bias in the Live Action decision, that they were wrong to have censored Live Action, that there was a problem with their supposed independent fact-checker, that he's very concerned about it."
The Christian Post reached out to Facebook for a response to Hawley’s claim.
On background, a Facebook spokesperson explained to CP that Zuckerberg only told Hawley that it appeared there was bias in the handling of the Live Action fact check.
The spokesperson also said that Zuckerberg told Hawley that Silicon Valley deals with the perception of bias and stressed that it is something that is important to be aware of.
Responding to Hawley’s comments, Rose called for Facebook to “make this right” by issuing a public apology for labeling the Live Action video as “false news.”
“@Facebook also needs to remove the inaccurate Fact Check, resend a notification to our followers who were notified by Facebook fact-checkers that our posts were ‘false,’ and fix their process so it never happens again to us or anyone else,” Rose tweeted.
Hawley and three other Republican senators sent a letter to Facebook on Sept. 11 expressing concern about what appears to be a bias against conservative viewpoints and its actions against Live Action.
Some have accused Facebook, as well as other social media companies, of suppression and censorship.
In the letter, Hawley and the three senators criticized Facebook’s tendency to claim that actions taken against conservative viewpoints have been “merely glitches.”
“The only thing more astonishing than your claim to nonpartisanship is your complete failure to back that claim with proof,” the letter reads.
This week, Facebook announced the creation of the Oversight Board, an entity that many are calling Facebook’s own “Supreme Court.” The board will take up individual cases and issue a ruling on whether or not Facebook’s censorship of content violates its own community standards.
“The purpose of the board is to protect free expression by making principled, independent decisions about important pieces of content and by issuing policy advisory opinions on Facebook’s content policies,” the board’s governing charter reads.