In response to the distorted video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that surfaced Friday and circulated widely on social media, CNN’s Anderson Cooper questioned Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, about the company’s decision not to remove the video from its platform Friday night.
According to the Associated Press, the video, which was based on real footage from a Center for American Progress press conference, was slowed down to make Pelosi appear as if she were slurring her words. Despite being flagged and identified as fabricated, the video is still available to view on Facebook.
During a discussion with Bickert, Cooper inquired about the social media site’s motives to keep the video online after they endured a “major breach of trust” with the Cambridge Analytica Data scandal. “Facebook has repeatedly told Congress and the American people that you’re serious about fighting disinformation and fake news, yet this doctored video that I think your own fact checkers acknowledge is doctored of Speaker Pelosi remains on your platform. Why?” Cooper was quick to ask her.
Bickert argued that despite reports, Facebook has in fact taken action by “dramatically reducing redistribution” of the video and is warning users that the video is fabricated. “Anybody who is seeing this video in their news feed, anybody who is going to share it to somebody else, anybody who has shared it in the past, they are being alerted that this video is false,” she said. “And this is part of the way that we deal with misinformation.”
Bickert further explained that the social media site works with “internationally certified fact-checking organizations that are independent from Facebook.” “We think these are the right organizations to be making decisions about whether something is true or false. And as soon as we get — and we did in this case, as soon as we get a rating from them that content is false, then we dramatically reduce the distribution of that content,” she said.
Cooper was dissatisfied with Bickert’s argument, as he continued to press why the social media site would “have no problem removing 3.39 billion fake Facebook accounts from October through March,” yet refuse to remove a “clearly fake video.”
“I guess I still just don’t logically understand — 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?” Cooper asked.
Bickert continued to stand by Facebook’s decision to keep the video online, telling Cooper that “people make their own informed choice about what to believe.” “Our job is to make sure we’re getting them accurate information.”
“Well, you are in the news business,” Cooper countered. “The reason you’re sharing news is because you make money from it. It keeps people watching you and more involved in your site, which I get, and that’s fair. But if you’re in the news business, which you are, you’ve got to do it right and this is false information you are spreading.”