Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted Wednesday, in his second day of Congressional testimony, that his company’s decision to flag and reject content from some conservative pages was a mistake.
Two sisters, Diamond and Silk – made famous for supporting President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign – have amassed more than 1 million followers for their pro-Trump videos. The pair has appeared multiple times on FOX Business, but their content was flagged by the social media site last year as “unsafe to the community.”
“In that specific case our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it,” he said.
While Zuckerberg tried to explain later in the hearing that Facebook works to proactively remove some harmful content, like terrorist material, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., fired back saying "Diamond and Silk [are] not terrorism."
Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, followed up with the tech mogul about another recent instance where a conservative hopeful running for office in his state had his pro-life, balanced budget message blocked by the platform because it contained content that was “shocking, disrespectful,” or threatening in any number of other ways.
While Zuckerberg said he wasn’t sure why that content was rejected, he added that “it’s quite possible we made a mistake,” saying that “unfortunately we don’t always get these things right when they’re reported to us.”
When it comes to the freedom to express political ideologies, Zuckerberg said: “I do agree that we should work to give people the fullest free expression that’s possible.” On Tuesday he told senators, “We don’t think of what we’re doing as censoring speech.”
Facebook came under fire during the 2016 election cycle when a former worker alleged that the company’s “news curators” selected what went onto the site’s trending stories section and routinely left out news regarding popular conservative people and topics due to their own political biases.
The same worker also said these curators would sometimes place stories into the highlighted section that weren’t trending at all.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., questioned Zuckerberg on the same topic Tuesday, to which the Facebook founder said he could understand why people may have concerns about biases at his company.
“I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” he said, adding that he doesn’t question any of his employees about their political affiliation before hiring them. Nevertheless, he maintained his commitment to rooting out any bias in the work Facebook does.