The Barometer is no fan of Mark Zuckerberg, his hoodies, or his company, Facebook. However, it is a commentary on the intellectual level of members of congress when the man who became a billionaire through a marketing scheme planted within an addictive social media site looks like a sage. Mr. Zuckerberg was up on the Hill looking to win support for Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra. Sure, Zuckerberg and fake currency – what could possibly go wrong there? However, the members of congress did not want to zero on on that scary proposition. Nay, nay. They wanted Zuckerberg to pledge to take down political ads that contained “lies.” The ubiquitous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was loaded for bear.
AOC: “Could I run ads targeting republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal?”
“Do you see a problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?”
“So you will take down lies or you won’t take down lies? I think this is a pretty simple yes or no.”
Mr. Zuckerberg did not provide an answer, but should have explained the policy his company came up with (not sure Mr. Zuckerberg came up with it, which explains why he was stumped). He did well when he offered an explanation when he spoke recently at a law school. Someone at Facebook figured out that fact-checking political ads would consume their resources. Shades of truth, opinion, phrasing, and other content in all ads are misleading. Check out the infomercials for cooking pans alone.
Are there misleading statements in political ads? Absolutely. Are there misleading statements in speeches by members of congress? ‘Tis why they exist. Are there misleading statements at the UN, the state of the union address, and Parliament? The Honorable AOC needs to learn the old joke, “How can you tell when a politician is lying?” “When his lips are moving.” Or hers. Like the AOC whopper about the world ending in 12 years. That she honestly believes that factoid does not make it true. Or the time she posted footage of her crying at the border as she hung onto a chain-link fence because of the detained children. The problem was that there was just a tree and a Ford Explorer on the other side of the fence, but no detained children.
An AOC staffer offered justification, “But she could see the entrance!” True or false photo op? You decide. The point being that Facebook is right in its policy even if its CEO cannot always articulate it. Zuckerberg lucked out by not answering because whether true or false, political ads need voter discretion, analysis, and reflection. Voters do it well. Facebook has proven unreliable on the issue of disclosure in the past. Designating this crowd as an arbiter of truth would be playing with fire. The prism of self-righteousness in the members of congress does not allow them to see the risk. To his credit, Mr. Zuckerberg does.