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Facebook will not fact check statements by Israeli politicians during election campaign

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Facebook is not planning to fact check statements made by Israeli politicians on the social network during upcoming national elections.

After extensive discussion of the issue, Facebook determined that fact-checking politicians’ statements is tantamount to censorship, Jessica Zucker, a product policy manager, told Israeli reporters on Monday at the company’s offices in Tel Aviv, Israel’s business daily Calcalist reported.

Censuring political conversation on Facebook will limit public exposure to what politicians say and reduce politicians’ responsibility for their statements, Zucker said.

Zucker said that if a politician shares content that has already been determined to be false, the post will carry a warning saying the content is false and misleading. The politician will also be prevented from including that content in an ad. But original content will not be verified by Facebook and the company will not prevent that content from being used in posts and ads.

Meanwhile, Fosco Riani, associate manager of public policy in Facebook’s EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) elections team, said that his team had not identified any foreign interference and distribution of fake news related to the current election campaign in Israel.

Ahead of Israeli elections in April, Facebook removed almost 1,300 pages, groups and accounts connected to Iran that targeted Israel. No such behavior was discovered ahead of elections in September, Riani said.

Twitter has placed a blanket ban on political ads.

“Fighting misinformation is one of the most important things we do at Facebook,” Zucker said. “It is important to note that the manipulation of information is not a new phenomenon, but the scale that it can spread on social media is new.”