Both Facebook and Twitter have been hammered this week because both platforms have refused to take down doctored videos of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that were distorted to make her appear either unwell or under the influence of a substance that would cause slurred speech.
Cooper pulled no punches during the tough interview and started the questioning with the Facebook executive by reminding her, and his audience, about the social platform’s promises to crackdown on fake news after its awful policing job during the 2016 election season.
“So, Monika, in the wake of the 2016 election, obviously, Facebook has repeatedly told Congress and the American people that you’re serious about fighting disinformation and fake news, yet this doctored video that I think your own fact-checkers acknowledged is doctored of Speaker Pelosi remains on your platform. Why?” Cooper asked.
Bickert, answered with a non-answer. Instead she talked about actions Facebook has taken regarding the fake video, which basically added up to some word salad and then ended with the video remaining on the Facebook.
Cooper pointed that out responding, “But you keep it [the fake video] up?”
Bickert then answered that Facebook “let people know that it’s false, so they can make an informed choice.”
Cooper then asked again, “Why keep it up?”
“Anybody who is seeing this video in news feed, anyone who is going to share it to somebody else, anybody who has shared it in the past, they are being alerted that this video is false,” Bickert responded.
In a CNN Exclusive, Monika Bickert, Facebook VP for Product Policy and Counterterrorism, explains why the social media site hasn't removed a manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. https://t.co/tr9QRDcAZE pic.twitter.com/fOeMQaepSu
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 25, 2019
Cooper next talked about the influence of video as compared to the fact checking text that now accompanies the video on Facebook, telling Bickert, “The video is more powerful than whatever you’re putting under the video.”
Again, Bickert justified Facebook’s decision by claiming “the conversation on Facebook” is now “about this video having been manipulated. … The conversation is not about people believing this video. It’s that they are discussing the fact that it was manipulated. And that’s the conversation that people should be having.”
Eventually, Cooper got to the crux of the matter: Are social media platforms news organizations or not? Do they hold any responsibility for distributing fake news, and do they care either way?
“I understand it’s a big business to get into of trying to figure out what’s true or not, but you’re making money by being in the news business. If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?” Cooper asked.
Bickert replied, “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business.”
Cooper was having none of that and stated, “Well, you are in the news business. The reason you’re sharing news is because you make money from it. It keeps people watching you and more involved in your site, which I get, and that’s fair. But if you’re in the news business, which you are, you’ve got to do it right and this is false information you are spreading.”