Internet

Activist Sharpton takes Facebook ad concerns to Zuckerberg’s home

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Civil rights activist
Reverend Al Sharpton said he had a “no-holds-barred meeting”
with Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook Inc FB.O CEO’s home on
Monday over the company’s decision not to fact-check ads and
other content from politicians.

The meeting, which Sharpton said lasted nearly two hours at
Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto house, included multiple civil rights
activists and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl
Sandberg.

“We told him that we feel that the exemption for politicians
could be used to suppress voting, give wrong messaging and could
suppress census taking,” Sharpton told Reuters in a phone
interview on Monday after the meeting.

“He listened,” said Sharpton, who had sent Zuckerberg a
letter to request the meeting. “He made no firm commitments of
change but he seemed open,” he added.

Zuckerberg told Congress last month Facebook would take down
content from politicians that could risk voter or census
suppression. Sharpton said, however, he thought that a wide
array of content from politicians could indirectly cause such
suppression.

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020,
Facebook’s policy has also been slammed by Democratic candidates
and was recently criticized by some of its employees in an
internal letter.

Twitter Inc’s TWTR.N decision last week to ban all
political advertising has also heightened scrutiny of its larger
rival’s stance.

Facebook said in a statement it was grateful that the civil
rights leaders took the time to attend the dinner with
Zuckerberg and Sandberg.

“They discussed a range of important issues and we look
forward to continuing these conversations,” the statement said.

Zuckerberg defended the policy in an earnings call last
week, saying Facebook did not want to stifle political speech.
He also estimated that ads from politicians would be less than
0.5% of revenue next year. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N27G2NW

Sharpton, who had sent a letter to Zuckerberg requesting a
meeting, said he would next ask for a meeting with Alphabet’s
GOOGL.O Google about its stance on the same issue. He said he
also wanted to meet with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Critics of Facebook’s policy have run intentionally false
ads to highlight the issue. These include ads from Senator
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign claiming Zuckerberg had endorsed
President Donald Trump and a left-leaning group’s video claiming
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham backed the Green New Deal
climate proposal.


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