Billionaire Peter Thiel is behind a concerted effort to push Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into holding the line on his decision to avoid fact-checking politicians, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Thiel argues that Facebook should stick to its guns and continue accepting political ads from candidates without fact-checking, the report noted, citing sources familiar with the matter. He is effectively fighting an internal battle within the company against executives who are pushing for changes to the policy.
“Many of the decisions we’re making at Facebook come with difficult trade-offs and we’re approaching them with careful rigor at all levels of the company, from the board of directors down,” a Facebook spokesman said, The WSJ reported. “We’re fortunate to have a board with diverse experiences and perspectives so we can ensure debate that reflects a cross section of views.”
Zuckerberg, for his part, argues that keeping the ads in place satisfies Facebook’s desire to cultivate an open platform allowing people to express themselves freely.
“People worry, and I worry deeply, too, about an erosion of truth,” Zuckerberg said in October ahead of a speech at Georgetown University. “I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true.”
Thiel’s influence inside the company’s board is growing as executives fall away, The WSJ reported.
WSJ’s report came after Facebook announced in April it would not renominate Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to Facebook’s board of directors. The move came less than three years after Hastings reportedly told Thiel he intended to slam him for endorsing Trump in 2016.
Hastings offered to resign in 2016 following his flare up with Thiel but the 35-year-old CEO refused the offer.
Thiel was Facebook’s first outside investor, an investment that ultimately netted him over $1 billion. He suggested Zuckerberg focus on growing the Facebook platform’s user base rather than on churning a profit, a move that seemed prophetic given the company’s wealth.
Facebook’s critics laid into Zuckerberg after the social media platform decided in September to exempt politicians from a fact-checkers’ gavel. Media pundits say the change will cause a dramatically uptick in misinformation across the internet, as do many executives, according to The WSJ. Facebook and Thiel did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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