Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Zuckerberg tells his staff that Biden won the election

Mark Zuckerberg tells his staff that Biden won the election – even as disinformation about the result of the vote spreads on Facebook

  • Mark Zuckerberg hosted a call for all staff members on Thursday
  • The 36-year-old said he believed there was a clear winner to the US election
  • Zuckerberg said it was ‘unhelpful’ that people promoted the idea of fraud
  • He described it as ‘a challenge’ when the baseless claims were made by Trump
  • Zuckerberg spoke as misinformation about fraud circulated on his platform
  • He praised the work of Facebook’s independent fact-checkers 

Mark Zuckerberg has told Facebook’s staff that ‘the outcome of the election is now clear’ and that Joe Biden ‘is going to be our next president’ – despite his social media company giving voice to millions of Americans who insist without evidence that the election has been stolen.

Zuckerberg, 36, told his employees during an all-staff call on Thursday that the election was over, and the result certain.

‘I believe the outcome of the election is now clear and Joe Biden is going to be our next president,’ he said, in audio of the meeting obtained by BuzzFeed News.

‘It’s important that people have confidence that the election was fundamentally fair, and that goes for the tens of millions of people that voted for Trump.’

Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in February, held an all-staff call on Thursday to take questions

The 36-year-old Facebook founder said it was ‘clear’ that Biden had won the election

Zuckerberg during the call was asked how he would deal with the new administration, which is likely to be significantly more hostile towards his company than the Trump administration.

Staff said they were worried that Biden and his staff ‘dislike you and Facebook’.

Bill Russo, a deputy campaign communications director for Biden, lashed out at Facebook in a series of tweets on Monday night, blasting the company for allowing what he called ‘debunked conspiracy theories’.

‘If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after. Look at what has happened in just the past week,’ Russo said, going on to list examples that he said showed Facebook was too slow to delete certain dangerous right-wing content.

While Trump has talked tough about harsher regulations on Big Tech, accusing social media platforms of censoring conservatives, his administration has taken little concrete action. 

Russo’s tweets are among a number of signs that a Biden administration will take a harder line, pursuing Democrats’ opposite complaint that social media companies don’t delete enough material that they deem questionable.  

Zuckerberg tried to reassure his work force, telling them that Facebook and the Biden team ‘worry about the same issues,’ including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – a provision in federal law that immunizes platforms from liability for what users post on them.

He claimed that Facebook was not ‘averse’ to legislation, reiterating his remarks before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee on October 28.

He also said that he saw the Biden administration as more aligned with the company on issues including online encryption and climate change.

‘We will find ways to hopefully work together,’ he said.

Tensions with Facebook are running high, however, amid the deluge of misinformation and lies circulating online about the election and alleged fraud.

On Wednesday Biden media adviser Megan Clasen criticized Facebook for sending out an email to advertisers suggesting the company did not think there was a clear winner in the election.

Zuckerberg said people challenging the democratic results were ‘quite unhelpful’, and admitted that it was ‘a challenge’ when Trump himself was behind the disinformation.

Zuckerberg seen at an October 28 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing 

Joe and Jill Biden on Veterans Day. Biden is considered less favorable to big tech companies

‘Part of what we’re seeing out here are people who are calling for recounts and legal challenges, which, in a lot of cases, is their right and something you see in a lot of elections,’ said Zuckerberg.

‘But I think it’s also quite unhelpful that people out there are raising expectations that there is going to be a different outcome than from what was projected.

‘I think it, of course, is a challenge when the president of the United States is sharing some of these things directly.’

The billionaire’s remarks came less than three hours after Trump used Facebook to falsely claim that a company that made equipment to tabulate results had deleted votes in Pennsylvania.

That statement, which was also repeated on Twitter, has more than 180,000 shares on Facebook.

Zuckerberg said 120 million people visited its voter information center in 2020, including 33 million on Election Day.

He also said half of all people in the US on Facebook viewed ‘reliable voting information’ — details about voter registration or election deadlines — 13 times or more.

Half of Americans on Instagram viewed that information 15 times or more, he said, though he did not mention how Instagram had briefly given the wrong voting day to some people.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois later updated Zuckerberg’s figures to note that 140 million people visited the voter information center.

The Facebook founder shied away from addressing misinformation, only stating that the company’s third-party fact-checking partners debunked more claims on Election Day than any other day since the program launched in late 2016.

Zuckerberg is yet to congratulate Biden publicly.

His chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have both posted congratulations to Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris.


Mark Zuckerberg says Steve Bannon’s Facebook account was not suspended over his Fauci beheading comments because it ‘did not cross the line’

Mark Zuckerberg told an all-staff meeting on Thursday that former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon had not violated enough of the company’s policies to justify his suspension, according to a recording heard by Reuters.

‘We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely,’ Zuckerberg said. 

‘While the offenses here, I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line.’

Bannon suggested in a video last week that FBI Director Christopher Wray and government infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci should be beheaded, saying they had been disloyal to U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week lost his re-election bid.

Steve Bannon on November 5 used his podcast to call for Fauci and Wray’s beheading

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, said that Bannon’s remarks did not ‘cross the line’

‘I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England,’ said Bannon. 

‘I’d put the heads on pikes. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats.’ 

Facebook removed the video but left up Bannon’s page. 

The company had not previously answered questions about those actions and did not immediately respond to a Reuters request about Zuckerberg’s comments.

Twitter banned Bannon last week over the same content.  

Fauci told Australian television in an interview aired on Thursday that he found the remarks ‘really kind of unusual’.

The 79-year-old has said that Bannon’s comments were ‘really kind of unusual’

‘It’s obviously been very stressful. I mean, to deny that would be to deny reality,’ said Fauci. 

‘When you have public figures like Bannon calling for your beheading, that’s really kind of unusual, I think.

‘That’s not the kind of thing you think about when you’re going through medical school to become a physician.’ 

Zuckerberg spoke on the issue at a weekly forum with Facebook employees where he is sometimes asked to defend content and policy decisions, like the question on Thursday from a staff member asking why Bannon had not been banned.

Arrested in August, Bannon has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the $25 million ‘We Build the Wall’ campaign. 

Bannon has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

Amid the fallout from his ‘beheading’ comments, Bannon’s legal team announced they were quitting. 

As Trump’s chief White House strategist, Bannon helped articulate Trump’s ‘America First’ policy. 

Trump fired him in August 2017, ending Bannon’s turbulent tenure.

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