Facebook employees are railing against CEO Mark Zuckerberg for controversial ad policies that they say protects political misinformation.
In a letter written and signed by hundreds of workers at the company, employees criticized Facebook and Zuckerberg for the company's refusal to correct misleading information that appears in paid political advertisements.
'Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact-checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for,' wrote the employees.
'We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.'
The policy, they say, not only contradicts their attitude toward free speech but may also imperil US presidential elections in 2020.
'For the Election 2020 Lockdown, these teams made hard choices on what to support and what not to support, and this policy will undo much of that work by undermining trust in the platform,' the write.
The letter was written as a response to a stance by Facebook made in September that gave false claims that appear in paid political ads an exemption from its misinformation policies for 'newsworthiness.'
Zuckerberg has also defended the company's policy both in a speech at Georgetown University and again in congressional hearings this month.
'Our policy is we do not fact check politicians’ speech, and the reason for that is that we believe that in a democracy it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying,' Zuckerberg said in the hearings.
Facebook says it will refrain from removing claims in political ads, even those that are found to be false, if they 'believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm.'
The controversial stance has already drawn the ire from users, politicians, and now, disgruntled employees.
In their letter, workers outlined several demands that they say would reclaim that platform's integrity, including treating misinformation that appears in political ads like any other misleading content on Facebook.
That would include more openly disclosing the company's policy of not fact-checking and removing paid-for political advertisements, they say.
Workers also advocate for more clearly labeling political ads with visual cues, clarification of its policies surrounding misinformation, and banning the use of targeted advertising when it comes to politics.
By using Facebook's many ad targeting tools, the workers say Facebook politicians' ability to home in on audiences is outsized and may undercut public debate.
'The risk with allowing this is that it’s hard for people in the electorate to participate in the “public scrutiny” that we’re saying comes along with political speech,' write the employees.
'These ads are often so micro-targeted that the conversations on our platforms are much more siloed than on other platforms.'
Facebook's reluctance to interdict on misinformation in paid political advertising stands as a direct contradiction to many of its other public efforts to stop the tide of fake news and other propaganda.
Notably Facebook has implemented several measure designed to prevent the tide of foreign interference in the upcoming US presidential elections in 2020.
Just this month, the company rolled out measures designed to visually tag information that has been labeled as false and security measures designed to protect the accounts of politicians.