By Mike Murphy
Mark Zuckerberg called out his social-media rival on Wednesday, saying Twitter Inc. should not be fact-checking President Donald Trump — or anybody.
During a clip from an interview on the Fox News program “The Daily Briefing,” set to be aired in full Thursday, the Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.23% co-founder and chief executive said companies shouldn’t be the truth police.
‘I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.’
“We have a different policy than Twitter on this,” he said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
Facebook does, however, warn users who “like” misinformation about the coronavirus, and in March removed a Trump campaign ad about the U.S. Census that had been called misleading.
Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, Jack Dorsey, responded to Zuckerberg’s comments in a series of tweets Wednesday night.
“We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally,” he said. “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”
In the interview, Zuckerberg also said Trump should not retaliate against social-media companies. “In general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex,” he said.
Late Wednesday, the White House said Trump will sign an executive order concerning social-media companies on Thursday. It was unclear what the order would entail. Earlier in the day, Trump threatened to “strongly regulate” or close down social-media companies that attempt to “silence conservative voices.”
Harvard professor and constitutional-law expert Laurence Tribe tweeted Tuesday that Trump’s threats are “totally absurd and legally illiterate,” saying Twitter’s policy is “absolutely protected under the First Amendment as an expression of opinion.”
On Tuesday, Twitter added a fact-check warning label to two Trump tweets in which he made unsubstantiated claims about voting by mail.
“These tweets contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. “This decision is in line with the approach we shared earlier this month.”
Twitter laid out rules earlier this month about disputed or misleading tweets, saying they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and only removed if they are harmful.
Facebook, Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.90% and other social-media sites have been harshly criticized in recent years over their failures to monitor misinformation and other transgressions on their platforms.