Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey criticized his Facebook counterpart this week, making it clear that he sees a major flaw in Mark Zuckerberg's hard-line approach to free speech on social media.
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In a 40-minute speech at Georgetown last week, the 35-year-old billionaire argued that Facebook’s approach to content — including allowing politicians to run false or misleading ads — is rooted in the First Amendment and American tradition, evoking the civil rights movement and other grassroots initiatives. His stance has garnered criticism from civil rights leaders, presidential candidates and bipartisan lawmakers.
“We talk a lot about speech and expression and we don’t talk about reach enough, and we don’t talk about amplification,” Dorsey said at the Twitter News Summit in New York on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “And reach and amplification was not represented in that speech.”
Zuckerberg also used his remarks to suggest that giving people in the early 2000s a voice to discuss the U.S. war in Iraq was a motive for Facebook's founding. The social media behemoth began as a tool to rate Harvard students’ attractiveness.
“There’s some amount of revisionist history in all his storytelling,” Dorsey said of Zuckerberg. “It takes away from the authenticity and the genuineness of what we’re trying to do.”
Dorsey’s comments came after Zuckerberg testified during a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing, a session in which several lawmakers skewered him over Facebook’s controversial ad policy.
During one terse exchange, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., pushed Zuckerberg about whether she could run an ad targeting Republicans running for re-election and falsely say they voted for the Green New Deal. Zuckerberg said he did not know the answer "off the top of his head."
"Do you see a problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "So you will take down lies or you won't take down lies? I think this is a pretty simple yes or no."
Of course, Twitter is dealing with its own free speech, content moderation and misinformation problems, many of them similar to Facebook’s. Twitter, Trump’s go-to communication platform, has also been urged to suspend the president’s account, which has more than 65 million followers.
Trump's tweets "rise to the level that Twitter should consider suspending his account. Others have had their accounts suspended for less offensive behavior,” Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris wrote in a recent letter to Dorsey. “When this kind of abuse is being spewed from the most powerful office in the United States, the stakes are too high to do nothing.”
Although the company agreed to flag and give added context to tweets that violate its policies, it has repeatedly refused to remove world leaders' accounts, saying their posts are inherently newsworthy.