Facebook employees criticize company over political ads policies

"Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact-checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hundreds of Facebook employees signed a letter protesting the social media giant decision to allow politicians to make any claims in their advertisements, even if patently false, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
"We are proud to work here. Facebook stands for people expressing their voice. Creating a place where we can debate, share different opinions, and express our views is what makes our app and technologies meaningful for people all over the world," the beginning of the message addressed to the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg read.
The employees went on harshly criticizing the decision to not fact-check ads by politicians.
"Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing," they wrote. "Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact-checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn't protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy."
The message also offered several proposals on how to amend Facebook's policies regarding politicians' ads. The list of suggestions included holding political ads to the same standard as other ads, restrict targeting for political ads similar to what the company does with regards to education and housing ads, and implementing spending caps for individual politicians, regardless of source.
The letter received the praise of Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"Courageous workers at Facebook are now standing up to the corporation's leadership, challenging Zuckerberg's disturbing policy on allowing paid, targeted disinformation ads in the 2020 election," she wrote on Twitter.
Earlier this month, during a congressional hearing, Ocasio-Cortez grilled Zuckerberg on whether Facebook would permit her to run an ad falsely stating that U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham supported the Green New Deal, a proposal championed by the New York representative that would eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.
Such an ad, which eventually ran on Friday, was put up as a stunt by a left-leaning Political Action Committee, or PAC, called The Really Online Lefty League, to test Facebook's political ad policies.
The following day Facebook announced it removed the ad.
Reuters contributed to this report.