Zuckerberg says he considered banning political ads on Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social media behemoth considered banning political ads, but ultimately chose not to do so in order to protect free speech.

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“Given the sensitivity around political ads, I’ve considered whether we should stop allowing them altogether,” Zuckerberg said during a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday. “From a business perspective, the controversy is not worth the very small part of the business that they make up.”

But the billionaire executive said he ultimately decided Facebook served as an important outlet for candidates -- and that banning them created issues about where to draw the line.

"There are many more ads about issues than there are directly about elections," he said. "Would we ban all ads about health care or immigration or women’s empowerment? If we banned candidates’ ads but not these, would that really make sense to give everyone else a voice in political debates except the candidates themselves?"

Zuckerberg also pointed to censorship by TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app that’s become the latest teen obsession.

A report in The Guardian last month outlined how TikTok censors videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence or the banned religious group Falun Gong — and how the app tries to advance Chinese foreign policy aims.

"Is that the Internet we want?" Zuckerberg said.

The company came under fire last week for refusing to take down a false ad run by President Trump’s reelection campaign about former Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner in the 2020 race. In the 30-second ad, the Trump campaign accuses Biden of promising Ukraine $1 billion if its government fired the prosecutor investigating his son, Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a company in the country.

Biden's campaign sent a letter to the company requesting that it remove the ad, but Facebook refused, saying it did not violate company policies.

The company has previously said that politicians, who are exempt from third-party fact-checkers, have almost total control of the content they post online.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren turned Facebook's rules against it last week with an admittedly fake ad accusing Zuckerberg of endorsing Trump for president. That’s not true, which the Massachusetts Democratic senator reveals a little later in the advertisement.

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