Billionaire philanthropist George Soros on Thursday lashed out at Facebook’s continued dissemination of disinformation and accused the company of plotting to get Donald Trump reelected in exchange for his protection.
“I think there is a kind of informal mutual assistance operation or agreement developing between Trump and Facebook,” Soros, 89, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Facebook will work together to reelect Trump, and Trump will protect Facebook so that this situation” — spreading disinformation — “cannot be changed.” Soros added: “It makes me very concerned about the outcome for 2020.” He offered no specific evidence.
Soros, known for supporting Democratic causes, accused Facebook of having “one guiding principle: Maximize your profits, irrespective of what harm it may do to the world.”
Facebook representative Andy Stone shot back in response to the “mutual assistance” allegation on Twitter: “This is just plain wrong.”
Facebook has come under fire for its policy allowing political ads with false information on its platform. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that the company doesn’t want to interfere with First Amendment rights and the free exchange of ideas — even if they are deliberately false or misleading. He said it shouldn’t be up to Facebook to determine if political ads are accurate. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news,” he said in an interview in December.
Facebook did little to nothing to stop Russian disinformation campaigns during the 2016 presidential campaign. But it has since improved screening processes to block disinformation from the Kremlin.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week called Facebook “shameful” for being “accomplices for misleading the American people, with money from God knows where.” She added: “All they want are their tax cuts and no antitrust action against them.” Pelosi said she believes Facebook “schmoozed” the Trump administration to get favorable treatment.
Last year she attacked Facebook after it refused to remove a doctored video that made it appear she was slurring her words. “I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election,” she said in May.
Soros has attacked Facebook at Davos in previous years. After accusing the company of triggering internet addiction in 2018, then CEO Sheryl Sandberg sicced staff members and a Republican opposition-research firm on Soros to discredit his Facebook criticisms and probe his finances, The New York Times reported.
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