Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) argued during a virtual town hall on Friday that Facebook’s reluctance to address radical misinformation on its platform was partly to blame for the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
“I believe that this is directly connected to the complete lack of accountability that monopolies like Facebook have to democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook bear partial responsibility for Wednesday’s events. Period.”
The New York representative said that Facebook treated white supremacist radicalization with “kid gloves,” and brought up Zuckerberg’s evasion of her questions when he testified before Congress in 2019.
At the time, Ocasio-Cortez asked Zuckerberg why right-wing news outlets with ties to white supremacists, such as The Daily Caller, were labeled as official fact-checkers on the platform, and questioned his private dinner parties with the likes of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News pundit who has called white supremacy a “hoax.”
Zuckerberg responded by saying that an independent partner bore responsibility for labeling The Daily Caller as a fact-checker — which is not entirely true, given that Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy and a former official in George W. Bush’s administration, pushed for the decision. Zuckerberg ignored Ocasio-Cortez’s question about the dinner parties.
“They’re currently doing as much damage control as possible, but they knew,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday, referring to the fact that there were at least 70 “Stop the Steal” groups active on Facebook following the Capitol riot, according to an investigation by Media Matters. “Not only did they know, but they allowed it.”
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has argued that the Capitol attack was “largely organized” on platforms other than Facebook.
Following the riots, President Donald Trump was banned from the site, with Zuckerberg arguing that Facebook had been used “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
On Saturday, Facebook announced that it would ban ads for weapon accessories and protective gear in the U.S. for at least two days after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Watch Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks below.