Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, disclosed Thursday on “The Joe Rogan Experience” that the FBI approached the social media company during the 2020 presidential election and urged them to crack down on alleged “Russian propaganda” prior to the publication of the Hunter Biden laptop story in the New York Post.
Zuckerberg made the statements in response to presenter Joe Rogan’s question on how Facebook handled problematic major news stories, such as the Hunter Biden laptop incident.
“I mean, basically, the background here is the FBI, I think, basically came to us, some folks on our team, and was like, ‘Hey, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was, we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically, there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant,’” Zuckerberg said.
“So our protocol is different from Twitter’s. What Twitter did is they said, ‘You can’t share this at all.’ We didn’t do that,” Zuckerberg continued. “What we do is we have, if something was reported to us as potentially misinformation, important misinformation, we also use third-party fact-checking program, because we don’t want to be deciding what’s true and false. And for the — I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false, the distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it; you could still consume it.”
Zuckerberg stated that the decreased distribution on the platform caused the story to be listed lower in users’ newsfeeds, “so fewer people saw it than otherwise would have.”
Zuckerberg stated that the demotion of the item had a “significant” effect on the number of people who viewed it.
“So depending on what side of the political spectrum, you either think we didn’t censor it enough or censored it way too much,” he continued. “But we weren’t sort of as black and white about it as Twitter. We just kind of thought, hey, look, if the FBI, which I still view is a legitimate institution in this country, it’s like very professional law enforcement, they come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something, then I want to take that seriously.”
Zuckerberg did not recall the specifics of the FBI’s statement or if it pertained to this particular case, but he stated that it “essentially followed the pattern.”