Biden campaign officials criticize how Facebook handled the election and its aftermath
- Biden campaign officials have been mounting their criticisms of Facebook's handling of the 2020 election, misinformation and its general impact on democracy.
- The criticisms could signal that the incoming administration may have the appetite to take antitrust action against the social media company.
Several Biden campaign officials have criticized Facebook's handling of the 2020 election, suggesting that the incoming administration may not go easy on the company, which has come under increasing government scrutiny in recent years.
Facebook already faces antitrust probes and investigations from several federal and state agencies. Among them is the Federal Trade Commission, which is likely to sue Facebook for antitrust violations before the end of the month, according to a report last week from Politico. Since first testifying before Congress in 2018 about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been called to explain his company's actions to government officials multiple times. In 2020 alone, he has testified before the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Senate Commerce Committee and the FTC.
Now, Biden officials have signaled they're paying close attention.
On Wednesday, Megan Clasen, a senior paid media advisor for the campaign, criticized Facebook's choice of words indicating that Biden had won the election.
Two days earlier, Bill Russo, deputy communications director for the Biden campaign, went on a 10-tweet condemnation of Facebook's handling of misinformation:
In response to these tweets, a Facebook spokesman noted that others, albeit no Biden campaign officials, have praised the company's handling of the election.
Biden campaign digital director Rob Flaherty has also posted several tweets criticizing company's policies on political ads.
In an Oct. 29 statement, Flaherty accused Facebook of providing no clarity regarding its policy decision to against allowing any new political ads a week prior to the election. The policy was plagued by a technical issue that improperly blocked ads that were submitted before the deadline.
Flaherty on Wednesday once again criticized Facebook's ad policies, this time taking issue with the company's decision to not allow any political ads until December — a decision that impacts the campaigns for the two unsettled Senate races in Georgia. The state has a runoff set for Jan. 5. After Facebook product management director Rob Leathern tweeted that the company did not have the technical capabilities to allow ads in one specific state while blocking them in others, Flaherty responded with a link to a Facebook statement from December 2018 in which the company announced that it would not allow local political ads in the state of Washington.
Biden officials have made other complaints against Facebook well before the election. In September, the campaign sent a letter to Zuckerberg accusing the platform of backsliding on its work to protect democracy in the U.S.
Specifically, the campaign criticized Facebook's decision against prohibiting a video posted on the Trump campaign's Facebook page featuring Donald Trump Jr. claiming without evidence that his father's opponents have a plan "to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election."
"No company that considers itself a force for good in democracy, and that purports to take voter suppression seriously, would allow this dangerous claptrap to be spread to millions of people," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon wrote in the letter. "Removing this video should have been the easiest of easy calls under your policies, yet it remains up today."
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