Former Vice President Joe Biden told The New York Times editorial board that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have broken the law because the social network hosted false content on its platform.
Biden was asked in the interview about a pro-Trump Facebook ad that falsely claimed he blackmailed Ukrainian officials to not investigate his son and whether that affected his view of tech platforms.
“No, I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem,” Biden replied.
Biden argued that newspapers “can’t write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued,” but Zuckerberg can, even though Facebook did not produce the ad in question.
Biden told the outlet that tech platforms should be held liable for content posted by their users because Facebook is “not merely an internet company.”
“It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy,” he said. “You guys still have editors. I’m sitting with them. Not a joke. There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible. It’s totally irresponsible.”
Biden suggests Facebook should face legal penalties:
Asked if Zuckerberg should face “criminal penalties,” Biden said, “he should be submitted to civil liability and his company to civil liability, just like you would be here at The New York Times.”
“Whether he engaged in something and amounted to collusion that in fact caused harm that would in fact be equal to a criminal offense, that’s a different issue,” he said. “That’s possible. That’s possible it could happen. Zuckerberg finally took down those ads that Russia was running. All those bots about me. They’re no longer being run.”
Facebook hits back:
Facebook hit back at Biden over his call to revoke Section 230, which "allows for tech companies to take ‘good faith’ measures to moderate content on their platforms, meaning they can take down content they consider violent, obscene or harassing without fear of legal retribution,” per CNBC.
“Section 230 obviously benefits not just Facebook,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told the outlet. “It’s not just foundational to the internet, it’s what allows The New York Times to host reader comments on their websites.”
Biden’s rival Bernie Sanders had a different outlook on how to police Facebook in an interview with Vox.
Sanders vowed to “work with experts and advocates to ensure that these large, profitable corporations are held responsible when dangerous activity occurs on their watch, while protecting the fundamental right of free speech in this country and making sure right-wing groups don’t abuse regulation to advance their agenda.”