Facebook Doesn't Want to Censor Political Ads Over Accuracy, Executive Says

Date : 10/22/2019 @ 5:30AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Facebook Inc (FB)
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Facebook Doesn't Want to Censor Political Ads Over Accuracy, Executive Says

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By Georgia Wells 

LAGUNA BEACH, CALIF.-- Facebook Inc. doesn't want to censor paid content from politicians based on accuracy but it would draw the line at political ads if they encourage violence, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said Monday.

Facebook wants to moderate content as little as possible because, as a private company, it doesn't want to make decisions about speech, Mr. Schroepfer said, echoing recent comments from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But an ad posted by a politician that might inspire imminent harm to another person would be barred from the platform, Mr. Schroepfer said at the WSJ Tech Live conference here.

"It's pretty high up in the policy ranking of the things we don't want on the platform," he said. "If this speech is going to cause...harm, I think most people think that's a good place to start intervening."

Facebook angered Democrats earlier this month with its refusal to remove an ad from President Donald Trump's re-election campaign that made an unsubstantiated claim about former Vice President Joe Biden's role in the ouster of a Ukranian prosecutor.

Facebook denied the Biden campaign's request to remove the ad, which the campaign said was false. That decision was made according to a policy Facebook announced in September that it won't fact-check speech or advertising by politicians.

Political advertising has caused a disproportionate headache for Facebook compared with the amount of revenue it provides the company. "We have had heated debates about whether political ads are worth it," he said. "There's an argument that it's getting abused too much, and there's an argument about access."

Elizabeth Warren in early October accused Facebook of prioritizing profit over protecting democracy.

Mr. Schroepfer said he believes political advertising is good because it could allow potential candidates who can't afford broadcast ads to still promote themselves.

Facebook is still building out other aspects of its advertising policy, including how the company should treat content manipulated with artificial intelligence or other technology, known as "deepfakes," Mr. Schroepfer said. "This is a part of our policy that is still in discussion."

If a video has been edited it may be eligible for fact-checking, and potentially labeled as misinformation. "There's not a policy yet for how do you treat it just because it is an AI-created thing," he said.

Twitter Inc. said earlier at the conference that it is planning a new policy for deepfake content.

Meanwhile, Facebook is also working to better train its algorithms to detect violent videos, Mr. Schroepfer said. The company hopes to prevent a repeat of the March tragedy when a video of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand remained on Facebook for an hour before the company took it down.

"AI systems need examples to understand what they're looking for. We literally didn't have a lot of first-person examples like that," he said.

Since Christchurch, Facebook has partnered with the London Metropolitan Police Service to get more data related to first-person attacks. Facebook provided the police with cameras, and the police are running training simulations of these types of attacks.

"We're going to feed that straight into our systems to detect this," he said.

Write to Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 22, 2019 01:15 ET (05:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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