Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has denied that the company’s involvement with political advertising has anything to do with any kind of financial gain whatsoever.
The company has consistently refused to take down ads even if they openly lie about their political opponents.
It has fast made political advertising one of the most toxic parts of Facebook.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s stated that whether political ad posts are fake or not, it adds to the ‘discourse’ and that the company ‘wasn’t doing it for the money’
Nevertheless, speaking at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles, Sandberg said such advertising brings in very little money for the company.
‘It’s not for the money, let’s start there. This is a very small part of our revenue. It’s very small, very small,’ Sandberg said to interviewer Katie Couric. ‘And it is very controversial. We’re not doing this for the money.’
‘We take political ads because we really believe they are part of political discourse,’ Sandberg added. ‘If you look at this over time, the people who have most benefited from being able to run ads are people who are not covered by the media so they can get their message out.’
Sandberg stated that Facebook would be introducing an ad labeling system, saying each spot would be verified and identified by who paid for the placement.
Interviewer Katie Couric pushed Sheryl Sandberg to address what measures Facebook has taken to protect elections
She also made a point of stating that if ‘something is hate or bullying, it comes down’ but if something is fake, ‘We don’t take it off.’
‘It is the price of free speech. That means there is going to be all the beauty and all the ugliness of humanity… We are going to fight to keep the bad off but keep the good going,’ Sandberg said.
The interview went on with Couric challenging Sandberg over Mark Zuckerberg’s proposal to protect users from fake news. Couric asked whether she believed a team of 35,000 new Facebook content monitors would be able to manage the posts from 2.2 billion active users.
‘The moderators are looking for content, the engineers are looking for fake accounts. That’s the only way to find [them],’ Sandberg said.
‘We’re taking down millions of fake accounts per day,’ Sandberg stated.
But Couric was still on the attack and was presented with a quote from Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer who resigned in 2018.
Sandberg stated Facebook how Facebook has improved security to filter fake news and hate speech. She was speaking at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles
‘My real fear is that in 2020, it is going to be the battle of the billionaires, of secret groups working for people aligned on both sides, who are trying to manipulate us at scale, online,’ Couric quoted Stamos. ‘What is Facebook doing to defend the platform against this kind of domestic threat?’
Sandberg said that Facebook’s transparency is changing and noted that content pages will now receive geotags identifying their origin points whether they like it or not.
Interviewer Couric proceeded to challenge Sandberg, claiming Facebook operated with a double-standard which apply to professional news organizations but not their own platform.
Couric highlighted a quote written by Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ’s civil rights arm.
‘Simply put, while major news organizations strengthen fact-checking and accountability, Facebook is saying if you are a politician who wishes to peddle in lies, distortion and not-so-subtle racial appeals, welcome to our platform. We will not fact-check. You are automatically newsworthy. You are automatically exempt from scrutiny,’ Gupta’s quote read.
Sandberg responded by insisting that damaging posts promoting hate, violence and terror are removed.
‘It’s really not about ads. It’s about content on the platform. Hate, violence, terror. It immediately comes down.’