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Facebook, Fake News and Free Speech

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, checks his phone in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, checks his phone in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Facebook is a social media giant that has faced its share of scandals in recent years.

The latest one involves conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the founder and host of the show InfoWars. Facebook announced on Friday that it will level a 30-day suspension on Jones because four videos posted by him violated the company’s community standards.

From CNET:

A Facebook spokesperson also said if Jones or his fellow admins continue to break its rules, his page faces a permanent ban from the site.

The 30-day ban affects Alex Jones personally, not his fellow Infowars page admins, meaning his “The Alex Jones Channel” will stay on Facebook for now and his colleagues can continue to post unless they break the rules as well. A Facebook spokesperson said the entire channel is close to the threshold that would justify his page being permanently removed, though.

The move comes a day after YouTube removed some of Jones’ videos and suspended his ability to broadcast live on YouTube for 90 days.

This move also follows a huge drop in Facebook’s stock. The company’s shares fell an eye-popping 19 percent on Thursday — about $120 billion dollars of shareholder wealth.

Facebook, and its role in political discourse, has been heavily scrutinized since the 2016 election. Journalists, pundits and the public are wondering what the company knew about Russian efforts to interfere in American politics, particularly about the diffusion of fake news.

But is Facebook at a turning point? What is the company doing to assuage user concerns? What responsibility does the company hold for content published on their platforms?

Produced by Bianca Martin. Writeup by Gabrielle Healy.


David McCabe, Technology reporter, Axios; @dmccabe

Renee diResta, Policy specialist, Data for Democracy; @noUpside

Jitendra Waral, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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