Show an ad over header. AMP

Facebook can't appease either political party ahead of the election

Efforts by Facebook to appear politically neutral are growing complicated as critics on the left allege the company is over-pandering to conservatives and critics on the right allege the tech giant is biased against them.

Why it matters: Because of the enormous role Facebook plays in political campaigns, it risks being blamed for the outcome of the presidential election — regardless of who wins.


Driving the news: Facebook on Wednesday said it had taken action on thousands of QAnon accounts, posts, groups and ads on Facebook and Instagram as a part of updating policies around dangerous individuals and organizations.

  • Facebook said it will restrict the spread of QAnon content, but it will still let people post in support of the movement if they're not violating Facebook's other polices.
  • The policy is aimed at curbing organizations and movements "that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety" but do not meet the criteria to be banned from Facebook altogether.
  • The QAnon conspiracy has shifted from a fringe conspiracy theory into a sprawling network of falsehoods tacitly and sometimes explicitly endorsed by high-level officials.
  • President Trump said during a Wednesday press briefing that QAnon supporters "like me very much" and "love America."

Between the lines: The move comes amid a growing body of stories and research suggesting the tech giant gives conservative groups a wide berth to skirt its rules in an attempt to defuse unproven claims from right-wing politicians and media figures that it's biased against them.

  • Facebook scaled back its voter registration kickoff following complaints from the Trump campaign, the Tech Transparency Project said Wednesday, citing company emails to state officials obtained by the group. CEO Mark Zuckerberg in June said Facebook wanted to help 4 million people register to vote.
  • Facebook fired an employee who had collected evidence of right-wing pages getting preferential treatment, BuzzFeed News reported earlier this month.
  • NBC News separately reported, citing anonymous Facebook employees, that Facebook let conservative outlets and personalities spread false information without penalty.

Yes, but: Conservatives don't feel pandered to. Republicans used their time during the blockbuster hearing with Big Tech CEOs last month to accuse their companies of political bias against conservatives.

What they're saying: "While many Republicans think we should do one thing, many Democrats think we should do the exact opposite," a Facebook spokesperson said. "Our job is to create one consistent set of rules that applies equally to everyone."

  • "You can never win," a longtime tech industry Republican told Axios. "Oftentimes, if people are mad on both sides of the aisle, it means you're doing something right."

The other side: "I think Facebook peddles this narrative in which the fact that ‘both sides’ are always yelling at them proves they’re appropriately neutral," Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic strategist and co-founder of Accountable Tech, told Axios. "But the two sides are often asymmetrical. And when it comes to truth, or hate, or democracy, being neutral is nothing to be proud of."

The big picture: Most Americans say it's at least somewhat likely that social media platforms intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

  • The survey indicates that the right has succeeded in turning its censorship claims into a mainstream belief.

Go deeper: Most Americans think social media platforms censor political viewpoints

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to polls on final day of early voting

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

Keep reading... Show less

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday outlined his plan for the country's second coronavirus lockdown as the nation topped the 1 million case mark, per Johns Hopkins University data.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close except for takeout. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Inter-mingling between households and outbound international travel or out-of-home boarding will be prohibited. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump's legacy is shaped by his narrow interests

President Trump's policy legacy is as much defined by what he's ignored as by what he's involved himself in.

The big picture: Over the past four years, Trump has interested himself in only a slim slice of the government he leads. Outside of trade, immigration, a personal war against the "Deep State" and the hot foreign policy issue of the moment, Trump has left many of his Cabinet secretaries to work without interruption, let alone direction.

Keep reading... Show less

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Keep reading... Show less

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a quick-serve restaurant platform sponsored by Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Keep reading... Show less

Federal judge halts Trump administration limit on TikTok

A federal judge on Friday issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from imposing limits on the distribution of TikTok, Bloomberg reports. The injunction request came as part of a suit brought by creators who make a living on the video service.

Why it matters: The administration has been seeking to force a sale of, or block, the Chinese-owned service. It also moved to ban the service from operating in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, a move which was put on hold by Friday's injunction.

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: How hospitals are prepping for the new COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, particularly in areas that had been largely spared in the spring. One big question now is if hospitals are better prepared for this new wave, including if they'll be able to continue providing elective services.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what hospitals have, and what they still need, with Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, one of America's largest operators of hospitals and health clinics.

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories