Democratic politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren have thrown their support behind the Facebook workers petitioning Mark Zuckerberg to change the firm's policy on lies in political ads.
According to an internal letter obtained by the New York Times on Monday, 250 Facebook employees are currently petitioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to change the company's divisive rules on political advertising that allow politicians to lie without risk of censure from the social network. In the letter, the employees say they "strongly object" to the policy and called on the firm to ban false political ads.
Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate, and Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Representative for New York's 14th congressional district, both tweeted about the issue on Monday.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "Courageous workers at Facebook are now standing up to the corporation's leadership, challenging Zuckerberg's disturbing policy on allowing paid, targeted disinformation ads in the 2020 election."
Warren's tweet a few hours later sharply criticized Facebook's policy and urged Mark Zuckerberg to reverse his stance. It read: "Facebook's own employees know just how dangerous their policy allowing [sic] politicians to lie in political ads will be for our democracy. Mark Zuckerberg should listen to them—and I applaud their brave efforts to hold their own company accountable."
Facebook's stance on political advertising has caused significant controversy in the run up to the 2020 presidential elections.
Elizabeth Warren also ran an ad on Facebook containing a falsehood about Mark Zuckerberg endorsing Trump, to make a point about the damage lies in political ads can cause.
For his part, Zuckerberg has defended Facebook's stance, while pointing to what he views as increased efforts from the company to fight the spread of misinformation on the site.
Last week, Ocasio-Cortez grilled Zuckerberg on the issue during a congressional hearing, asking Zuckerberg if he saw "a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements."
Though Zuckerberg admitted to Ocasio-Cortez that he disapproved of lying, he denied it was Facebook's responsibility to fact-check the content it disseminates, even if such content contains lies.
"Well, congresswoman, I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie that would be bad. That's different from it being in our position the right thing to do to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied," was his reponse.
Despite his remarks, Facebook's stance on political lies appears inconsistent.
On Friday, Facebook blocked a PAC ad designed to test the social network's stance on political lies, another stunt akin to Elizabeth Warren's. The ad claimed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had voted for Ocasio-Cortez's Green Deal, when Graham is known to oppose it. Facebook pulled the ad, suggesting that the social network would fact-check groups but not individual politicians.