Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg recently defended the company’s decision to keep the site Infowars on its platform, a prominent right-wing outlet known for spreading conspiracy theories and baseless information.
Zuckerberg said in an interview published by Recode on Wednesday that Facebook has a responsibility to curb the viral spread of hoaxes and blatant misinformation. But he maintained that Facebook should not ban publishers for spreading false claims, a position he described as ‘‘too extreme.’’
‘‘The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the internet,’’ he said. ‘‘Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.’’
Facebook’s relationship with Infowars has come under heightened scrutiny in recent days. The social network touted its increased efforts to combat misinformation at an event with journalists. But a CNN reporter asked Facebook how it could reconcile this beefed up approach with allowing a known purveyor of conspiracy theories to maintain a popular page on the platform. According to CNN, the head of Facebook’s News Feed John Hegeman replied by saying that Facebook doesn’t take down false news.
Zuckerberg said that if people flag posts as potential hoaxes, Facebook will send the content to fact-checkers who can verify the claims. If the posts are false, Facebook will ‘‘significantly reduce the distribution of that content’’ in the News Feed, he said.
Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, also said that people who deny that the Holocaust happened should be allowed to stay on the social network, too. ‘‘I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,’’ he said. Zuckerberg added that it’s difficult to understand a person’s intent. He said that Facebook shouldn’t ban people from the network even if they spread false information on multiple occasions.