Rep. Rashida Tlaib wants some answers.
As Mark Zuckerberg testified before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday about Facebook’s proposed digital currency Libra, the representative from Michigan took the opportunity to address other criticisms facing the social platform.
When Tlaib questioned Zuckerberg, she asked to be seen not only as a Congresswoman, but also as “a mother that is raising two Muslim boys in this pretty dark time in our world.”
Her questioning then turned to the proliferation of hate groups on Facebook’s events pages.
Facebook has been criticized in the past for what some perceive as negligent regulations of hate speech on its platform, including its recent announcement that the hate speech posted by politicians would not be taken down due to its “newsworthy content.”
In her questioning, Tlaib noted the ease with which hate groups can organize on Facebook’s events pages, and the violence that this can fuel against African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.
When Zuckerberg failed to state whether an image depicting a man holding a gun outside of a mosque was in or out of line with Facebook’s community standards, Tlaib reminded Zuckerberg that white supremacist hate groups continue to use Facebook’s events pages to organize threatening protests outside of mosques.
She then when on to ask directly: “Why haven’t you stopped hate groups from using your events page, and are you endorsing these groups by leaving their events page up?”
Zuckerberg replied, “This is an area that I think is very important and that I take very seriously.” Then, he offered an excuse: “It’s very hard to police every instance of this, and a lot of the content in the stories that you are talking about I would personally condemn.”
“We’re not perfect, and we make a lot of mistakes,” Zuckerberg conceded, noting that more than 100 billion “pieces of content” are shared on the platform daily. “Even if we make mistakes on a relatively small percent, that’s still a lot of mistakes.”
Referencing the photo Tlaib brought up, he noted how the policies have nuances, explaining that sharing that photo might be allowed if it was being condemned.
Tlaib continued her strong questioning, asking Zuckerberg about hate speech posted by politicians, as her time ran out.
“But Mr. Zuckerberg, it is hate speech,” Tlaib said. “It is hate, and it’s leading to violence and death threats in my office. It’s untruthful … It’s a pretty dark time in our country and we need to be able to play a part in reducing that violence.”
Hopefully, after today, Zuckerberg listens.
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