Election 2020

Facebook Is Right to Let the Lying Trump Ad About Biden Stand

As always, the best answer to bad speech is more speech, not censorship.

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Facebook has been taking heat for refusing to remove a Trump campaign ad that includes misinformation about Joe Biden. The ad claims that Biden "promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son's company," even though there is no evidence that this happened.

But Facebook is far from the only company to allow the ad. The ad has graced Twitter, YouTube, and a slew of TV outlets: ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and Fox News. Only CNN seems to have rejected it.

Of course, it means different things for different entities to air the ad. The cable networks are both accepting money from the campaign and, at executives' discretion, giving the commercial a spot in a very limited amount of available airtime. The broadcast networks are doing the same, but with less choice in the matter: "broadcasters such as NBC, ABC and CBS have to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's rules around political ads, which bar them from censoring candidates," The Washington Post notes. They've largely interpreted this to mean "they must run ads from candidates, while they can fact-check and prohibit ads from Super PACs and other third-party groups."

Social media venues, meanwhile, may make money from the ad if the Trump 2020 campaign chooses to pay to promote it. But campaigns can post ads to these platforms for free too, and without any gatekeeping from company executives. So can tons of other users.

In other words, Facebook (and Twitter, and YouTube) are not proactively choosing to include this particular ad within a limited space for messages, nor are they making big bucks off it. They're simply choosing not to censor the myriad individual accounts that might share the ad.

This is an important distinction when it comes to assigning culpability. Perhaps neither TV executives nor social media companies should be in the business of evaluating and arbitrating political claims. At any rate, the social platforms aren't set up to do this—and it isn't a role many people of any political persuasion would be happy with them playing.

The issue certainly isn't unique to Facebook. And yet, perhaps owing to the site's reputation for aiding "election meddling" last time around, Facebook has been singled out for criticism.

"The company's position stands in contrast to CNN, which rejected two ads from the Trump campaign last week, including the one the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down," The New York Times reported Tuesday, noting that "the cable channel said it rejected the ad because it 'makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.'"

"Facebook's decision to promote Trump's lies shows how it's programmed to protect the powerful," trumpeted a Guardian headline today.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) called out Facebook too, tweeting that the company had "already helped elect Donald Trump once because they were asleep at the wheel while Russia attacked our democracy—allowing fake, foreign accounts to run ad campaigns to influence our elections"—and now "intends to use their influence in this election."

Biden has sent a letter asking Facebook and Twitter to remove the ad.

Again: For these platforms, removing the ad doesn't just mean rejecting official campaign advertising; it means playing whack-a-mole with anyone who posted it. And that, in turn, would open them up to even more accusations of censorship and political bias.

As usual, the best way to counter bad speech is with more speech. The best way to counter the misinformation in the Trump ad is for the Biden campaign to hit back with its own ads, for ostensibly impartial outlets like news media to call out campaign falsehoods, for people interested in the issue to share those responses widely, and for social media arbiters to get out of the way.

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  1. The ad claims that Biden “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” even though there is no evidence that this happened.

    Well, except for the video of him telling people he forced the Ukraine government to fire the prosecutor or forfeit a billion dollars of aid.

    But you’re right. Biden didn’t say those exact words and we know that exact words are important in these things, not intentions.

    Unless its Trump.

    1. I was wondering if the ‘lying’ part was the exact dollar figure. Like he withheld $1,000,000.67 in aid.

      1. Sorry, 1,000,000,000.67. Goddamned zeroes. But you get the idea.

        1. Regardless, even if these facts were arguably true, Facebook should be prosecuted for disseminating them–at least in all of the 27 American states where libel is a crime. Is this the rough and tumble of the Net? Let the company prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its intent was not to collude in harassing and damaging the reputation of two highly respectable members of our finest political class–however “truthful” such damage may have been thought to be, because everyone knows that believing that claim might be “true” is not an excuse for criminal conduct. In the “parody” context, this was established beyond any possible debate in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case, and the ruling in that case will soon hopefully be extended to the broader internet harassment context, so that we can undo some of the damage done to the fabric of our society by the left-wing “Supreme Court” of the 1960s. Would Facebook be let off the hook, for example, if it allowed its platform to be used to disseminate fraudulent “parodies” portraying the former vice president as admitting to plagiarism, and as seeking to squelch discussion of his admitted plagiarism? See the documentation at:

          https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

          1. Fuck off, whiner.
            See A-1 and STFU.

            1. I call Poe’s law. It was a well written parody, but too close to what people have actually said.

    2. Well the deceptive part is the implication that Joe Biden demanded that the Ukrainian government fire the prosecutor BECAUSE he was investigating Hunter Biden’s company.

      The evidence for that assertion I think is rather weak. The prosecutor was widely regarded as corrupt anyway, and he had already spiked the Burisma investigation years earlier.

      1. “The ad claims that Biden “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,””

        The ad doesnt use the word because, it just stated the company his son was apart of. Why are you lying Jeff. How much is Joe paying you?

        1. Oh I know. That is why I used the word “implication”.

          1. Heres the problem baby jeffrey. Every argument you have is based on an indication where you believe the only true reading of a headline is yours. Even when given counter information you hold on to the inference you had while reading headlines. Facts be damned. It’s why you would post the wrong whistleblower act over and over for a week on threads instead of the one that controlled the IC.

            1. “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”

              You’d have to be a complete idiot, or a complete Trump cultist, to honestly believe that the reason why Trump’s ad makes this claim, in this particular way, with this particular choice of words, has NOTHING AT ALL to do with trying to create the unstated inference that Joe Biden was corruptly trying to protect his son.

              It’s why you would post the wrong whistleblower act over and over for a week

              I have never posted any whistleblower act here. I don’t know where you get this nonsense.

              1. “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”

                Literally the meaning of what Joe Biden is on video, in the form of a boast, saying.

            2. Someone who has to take time off from his day job of sucking Trump’s dick probably shouldn’t be lecturing others on ‘facts,’ Jesse.

        2. Burisma was not on the now fired prosecutor’s docket list. What Joe Biden was attempting would have put Burisma under investigation, the opposite of what you assume…

        3. “How much is Joe paying you?”
          Not Joe, Media Matters.
          ChemJeff and Tony are Fifty-centers.

      2. You mean the evidence for the assertion that Joe Biden interfered in the internal politics of a sovereign nation and that that interference just so happened to be to the benefit of a company that his son has a board seat on. A board seat that his sole qualification for is that he’s the son of the (then) Vice-President of the United States?

        Somehow we’re not supposed to make that massive leap that this was a quid-pro-quo?

        But we’re supposed to make the leap that the Trump call to Ukraine is exactly this?

        1. The opposite is true, Joe Biden’s action would have put Burisma under investigation. Trump’s own word’s exposes Trump was using blackmail for his personal political interests, the Biden’s did not.

      3. Widely regarded as corrupt BY WHO?

    3. They should change the name from “Reason” to “Gaslight”

      1. ENB is reaching Suderman levels of dishonesty here.
        She must be polishing up her resume for the next New York Times hiring sweeps.

        1. Reading Reason leaves one with the impression that mendacity is a contagious disease.

    4. There is also the evidence of the statement, under oath,given by the fired Ukrainian prosecutor! He clearly states that Biden told the Ukraine that the promised US aid would be withheld unless the prosecutor was fired & the investigation into Biden’s druggie son & his corrupt gas company was stopped!

      He alleges, “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings…a natural gas firm active in Ukraine. Jose Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors. I presume Burisma, which was connected with gas extraction, had the support of the US Vice President Joe Biden because his son was on the Board of Directors.”

      He claimed that Poroshenko asked him to consider winding down the investigation but he refused to close it. He claimed Poroshenko told him if he didn’t stop investigating Burisma the US via Biden would refuse to release the money.

      https://www.scribd.com/document/427618359/Shokin-Statement

      1. Bull sht. The fired prosecutor was not actively investigating Burisma. Joe Biden wanted the Ukrainian prosecutor fired because he was NOT investigating corrupt businesses, he was taking bribes to not investigate them. There was no “wide ranging corruption probe” of Burisma, the opposite in fact. What the Western Aliences wanted would result in Burisma being investigated, the opposite of your assumptions.

        1. Fuck off with your revisionism, JReed. You know that’s not true.

        2. Biden went to the Ukraine and threatened to withhold the foreign aid in March 2016.
          Victor Shokin was fired in April 2016.
          Yuri Lutsenko replaced Shokin in May 2016.
          The investigation into Burisma ended in November 2016, at Lutsenko’s direction.

          Curiously, Lutsenko is currently facing trial for shutting down government investigations into gambling and other criminal enterprises (not including Burisma).

          In other words, there was an investigation ongoing when Shokin was fired. The replacement, Lutsenko, is the one that initiated the end of the investigation, which officially terminated in November – more than 6 months after Shokin was fired.

      2. I don’t think we can trust anyone at their word as we have directly contradictory accounts. Someone is lying. Possibly everyone is lying to some extent. This requires a thorough investigation.

        That’s what I don’t understand. We don’t need to prove Biden OR Trump guilty or innocent. It looks suspicious as all get out, but it is possible both parties are not guilty (Biden did his duty as VP irrelevant of Hunter’s actions, and Trump was correctly concerned about an article that he read in the New York Times about potential corruption). It’s also possible that they are both guilty as sin, (Biden trying to save Hunter’s payday and Trump wanting to hurt Biden). The problem is that much of this revolves around their mindset as they were doing the same actions.

        We are not going to resolve this without a thorough investigation. Even after a thorough investigation, I seriously doubt that we will be able to determine between the two.

    5. Biden was only a spokesperson, the Administration, the entire Western Alliance, our allies and the International Monetary Fund, wanted the prosecutor fired because he was NOT investigating corrupt Ukrainian businesses, he was taking bribes to not investigate them. What Biden was attempting would have made Burisma, Hunter’s employer, GET investigated, the total opposite of what Trump was accusing.
      We now know Trump and Giuliani were fomenting corruption in the Ukraine and Trump attempting to shift blame on Biden was cheap obfuscation tactic to divert attention from Trump engaging in illegal corruption and his unprecedented nepotism with his adult children.

    6. “Trump’s Killer Campaign AD For Joe Biden”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbixdV2F6Ts

    7. I’m so bored of people believing Biden when he belches that he fired the prosecutor because he was corrupt. An honest person in Biden’s position at that time would call for an investigation into the alleged corruption. They wouldn’t demand their firing within 6 hours while threatening withdrawal of a billion dollars in aid, which he bragged about on camera.

      And Hunter Biden is a total loser with no skills, who couldn’t get a job selling used chewing gum without daddy’s intervention.

    8. So the lie is that Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion in US taxpayer money, when in fact it was a $1 billion loan guarantee, that might result in a $1 billion cost to the US if Ukraine doesn’t pay back the loan (seems like a good chance of that), and the US doesn’t pay some insurance company something less to insure it.

      In other words, ENB and the people with TDS are nitpicking, because they don’t like Trump. The truth of Hunter getting huge sums of money to protect a private and corrupt company headquartered in Cyprus (a money laundering haven) from investigation for corruption, because Joe Biden wanted it and threatened to withhold US assistance, remains the same. In fact, you could say Biden received foreign assistance for his presidential campaign. ENB would be wiser to rail against that as much as she does against Trump. Calling Trump a liar because they shorted “$1 billion in US taxpayer loan guarantees” to “$1 billion” is hardly a lie, especially compared to government officials selling out the US. Libertarians should be on Trump’s side here.

      1. Libertarians are. ENB not so much.

  2. Facebook has been taking heat for refusing to remove a Trump campaign ad that includes misinformation about Joe Biden. The ad claims that Biden “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” even though there is no evidence that this happened.

    Technically, what Biden did was threaten to withhold $1 billion that Congress appropriated for the Ukraine unless they fired the prosecutor that was investigating his son’s company. The problem with calling Trump’s characterization of this a “lie” is twofold: (1) most people aren’t going to see a substantive difference between this and Trump’s characterization of it and (2) trying to rationalize what Biden did (and bragged about doing on video) as being somehow okay while claiming that Trump allegedly withholding $250 million from the same country over the same investigation reveals the “impeachment inquiry” as being just a lot of “malarkey.”

    1. Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, was not investigating Burisma, it was not even on his list. Joe Biden was not in a position to personally withheld anything. Biden was just a spokesperson for the Administration, the entire Western Alliance, our allies and the International Monetary Fund, wanted the prosecutor fired because he was NOT investigating corrupt Ukrainian businesses, he was taking bribes to not investigate them. Biden would have forced the Ukraine to investigate Burisma, not protect Hunter Biden.
      What Trump did was attempt to blackmail the Ukraine for Trump’s personal political benefit, Biden did not.

      1. “Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, was not investigating Burisma, it was not even on his list. Joe Biden was not in a position to personally withheld anything.”

        It’s funny people just posting lies like they’re the truth, just like the MSM. The Wikipedia article on Shokin shows both Poroshenko, the Obama administration, and unnamed NGOs (now we know it’s Soros’ organization) wanted Shokin removed, Obama claiming Shokin wasn’t doing enough to stop corruption (no evidence provided to support that allegation – fits the typical Democrat MO – accuse your political opponents of what you’re doing). Ten months after being outed, Burisma was cleared of any wrongdoing. Biden’s job accomplished to cover up the corruption. Meanwhile, Obama’s administration asked Ukraine for dirt on Trump’s team, and they provided documentation used to convict Manafort (doing what political operatives in DC do, and reflecting on Manafort more than Trump given his work in Ukraine during Obama’s administration). Now they want to impeach Trump for having Ukraine investigate what happened in the 2016 elections, but it was OK for Obama/Hillary to ask them essentially the same thing.

      2. Again, your timeline is wrong.
        Shokin was fired in April 2016.
        The Burisma investigation ended in November 2016.

  3. Don’t be so quick to pat Facebook on the back for this. They’re just doing this because they fear regulation.

  4. BTW, raise your hand if you’re still on Facebook.

      1. Your hand, Eddy. Your hand.

  5. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) called out Facebook too, tweeting that the company had “already helped elect Donald Trump once because they were asleep at the wheel while Russia attacked our democracy—allowing fake, foreign accounts to run ad campaigns to influence our elections”

    It cracks me up that the Democrats are still pushing this utterly ridiculous conspiracy theory after it has been so roundly debunked. But whatever, science deniers, keep being you.

    1. I’ll remind you that Warren is STILL claiming she was fired for being pregnant in spite of mounds of evidence, including EARLIER interviews with her, that say otherwise.

      And the press IS CARRYING HER WATER FOR HER ON THIS.

      1. There’s a gold-plated narrative that we’re not letting go of here.

        1. And just to be clear, I think it is likely that Warren is lying about what happened to her.

          But I also don’t think there is some grand media conspiracy to protect her from her own lies.

          1. likely?

            1. Well I don’t know for certain.

              1. They found meeting minutes, and old newspaper articles contradicting her claim.

                There’s more evidence she’s not being honest than there is Trump colluded with Russia.

                1. Her side of the story is that she was offered the job, then she became “visibly pregnant”, and then the offer was revoked as a result.

                  That could be the case.

                  Or, it could be the case that she was offered the job, but declined the offer because of her pregnancy, and there was no pregnancy discrimination whatsoever.

                  That could be the case as well.

                  I’m inclined to believe the latter story, but I don’t know for certain.

                  And yes there is more reason to believe that she’s lying than to believe that Trump is a “Russian asset” or whathaveyou.

                  1. Nobody revokes a teacher’s job offer because she’s pregnant. That doesn’t even pass the smell test. This 1971, not 1871. There was no requirement that female teachers be unmarried. This wasn’t pre-sexual revolution. They knew she was married when they hired her, they knew married women often get pregnant.

                    Also, her child was born in September 1971, the meeting was held in April. She would have been three months pregnant. She wasn’t ‘visibly’ pregnant at three months.

                    1. Nobody revokes a teacher’s job offer because she’s pregnant.

                      Uh huh.

                      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/21/business/pregnancy-discrimination-miscarriages.html

                    2. “https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/21/business/pregnancy-discrimination-miscarriages.html”

                      How about a cite which isn’t NYT and lets me read the article.

              2. You should trademark that and make it into your slogan.

              3. I mean, the University provided the minutes of the meeting where they voted (unanimously I believe) to approve extending her teaching contract.

                There’s also her own previous statements that she left teaching voluntarily because of the upcoming birth of her child and not needing to work.

          2. You’ve missed the “Think she is lying? Women will tell you otherwise ” indicating that something that happened to some women HAD to have happened to her.

            And “likely”? In 2007, she said it did not.

            1. Can you distinguish between opinion pieces and news articles?

              Can you distinguish between articles that report on what Elizabeth Warren may or may not have said, and articles that report on issues that any candidate may raise, whether it be pregnancy discrimination or anything else, irregardless of the truth of the candidate’s claims?

              I kinda get the impression from you that since you think Elizabeth Warren is lying about her own story about alleged pregnancy discrimination, that media outlets should not even be talking about the issue of pregnancy discrimination AT ALL. That to even bring up the subject is to “carry water” for Elizabeth Warren, even if those same media outlets fairly report the facts contradicting her claims about her own story.

              Is that about right?

              1. What pregnancy discrimination? This is 2019 you know.

              2. She’s definitely lying, collectivistjeff progressive psychotic

              3. There isn’t any freaking question that she’s lying, unless maybe you want to claim that she’s honestly delusional. Contemporaneous records show that her story is wrong.

        2. Perhaps.

          “”Never mind that the records don’t contradict Warren’s story, or that it took place years before the national Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, or that other teachers at her school told CBS that there was a “rule” that pregnant teachers had to leave once they started to show. The doubts raised about this story create a cloud of dishonesty around Warren, just as the Ukraine affair stirs up a murk of corruption around Joe Biden. That’s the way politics works in 2019: Mud doesn’t have to be real to stick to you.””

          http://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-elizabeth-warren-pregnancy-20191011-ip7uljglizfu7l7xmvn4gat6sa-story.html

          1. Congratulations, you found an opinion piece defending Warren. Quelle surprise.

            I’m talking about news articles here.

            1. To be fair, they’re all opinion pieces these days.

      2. ” the press IS CARRYING HER WATER FOR HER ON THIS.”

        Indeed, still waiting for a Reason headline accusing her of LYING.

  6. This article smells of bull shit.

  7. “Facebook Is Right to Let the Lying Trump Ad About Biden Stand”

    Let’s not forget the lying Reason with its logo FREE MARKETS while it openly LIES about supporting that with an sound stance for coercive monopolies like state government.

  8. “The ad claims that Biden “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,””

    The only lie is that Shokin had stopped investigating due to pressure from his prosecution and was fired before he was about to restart the investigation.

    Biden threatened ukraine with 1 billion over Shokin, true premise. Shokin had and wanted to restart an investigation on Burisma, true premise. Hunter Biden was being paid by Burisma, true premise.

    The lie is only technical in nature due to limited time and cost per second of ads.

    1. Shokin had and wanted to restart an investigation on Burisma, true premise.

      We have only Shokin’s word for this claim.

      1. In idiot Jeff’s world, Shokin was the full summary of corruption in the Ukraine.

  9. Well you’ve certainly got a vested interest in making sure that actual lies can be told without repercussions. This isn’t one, of course, but we at least you’re least bright enough to realize the implications.

  10. The free speech principles invoked in the OP were tailored to a bygone reality, when publishers were subject to liability for defamation. As we know, that is no longer true for internet publishers, because Congress passed Section 230 to turn internet publishing into a special case, enjoying overwhelming advantages as compared to its legacy competitors.

    Under the old liability regime, public figures, and especially candidates for president, must clear extremely high bars before they can constrain speech which targets them with liability. It scarcely ever happened. Free speech about politics was not meaningfully constrained.

    Now, however, the knowledge that under Section 230, no constraint is realistically possible, has broadened the scope and severity of the defamations which internet publishers willingly publish. They review nothing prior to publication, and say so. That assures that every defamation directed at a candidate—however knowingly false, however extreme—will be published, and do its damage, without any practical defense except counter-defamation in kind. That makes a perverse mockery of the old adage that the best response for bad speech is more speech. It is a mockery that does not serve the public interest.

    We know by previous experience that if Section 230 were repealed, no meaningful restriction on campaign speech would result, except for reduction of the most extreme forms of defamation which Section 230 has newly enabled. Repeal Section 230.

    1. But Section 230 of the CDA doesn’t apply to the publisher in this case: the Trump campaign (presumably).

      It does apply to the conduit of publication (Facebook), which takes the analogous position to the paper mill and printing press manufacturer of prior years, at least as it applies to non-anonymous speech.

      VP Biden can easily sue for defamation, should he think he can prove it. What does it say that he chooses not to?

      1. Trump is the author.

        Facebook is the publisher.

    2. “The free speech principles invoked in the OP were tailored to a bygone reality, when publishers were subject to liability for defamation. As we know, that is no longer true for internet publishers, because Congress passed Section 230 to turn internet publishing into a special case, enjoying overwhelming advantages as compared to its legacy competitors. ”

      You
      Are
      Full
      Of
      Shit.

    3. I agree.
      This argument that free speech online relies on CDA 230 is preposterous because anyone can buy their own domain and make a blog.
      With Google donating to climate change deniers, reddit saying they’ll clean up, and now with Twitch broadcasting a shooting as well I think they know their days are numbered.
      The tech companies thought it would be awesome to connect everyone. Let everyone gather in one place and have meaningful discussions. Yet, everything they complain about (Trump, white nationalism, etc) was born and fueled by their own creation that they say is fine and doesn’t need any regulation.
      Just yank 230. A new market will open up that will allow users to easily host their own videos on their own sites that they will be held liable for. 99.99% of the internet is absolute garbage (nothing wrong with that) and those that aren’t garbage will move on with the changes just fine.

      1. “This argument that free speech online relies on CDA 230 is preposterous because anyone can buy their own domain and make a blog.”

        BEAT that strawman!!!

  11. What difference at this point does it make
    No reasonable prosecutor

  12. FAKEBOOK runs a place of marxist style censorship and the country knows it..
    Leftist friends of mine despise their tactics…

  13. And who determines what accurate or not? Snopes? MMA? SPLC?

    No thanks.

    How about a ban on any and all negative or comparative ads?

  14. Why are any Americans, particularly politically connected one, sitting on the board of a Ukrainian company to begin with?

    1. Um…coincidence?

    2. Globalism is good
      Globalism is good
      Globalism is good

    3. It sure as shit aint to help maintain Ukraine’s independence from Russia.

  15. Repealing Nixon’s 1971 anti-Libertarian looter campaign subsidy law would dry up the money poured into lying looter ads. It would also free other countries of the obligation to copy American errors and thereby saddle themselves with communist and fascist Juntas.

  16. “the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU)”

    Gaslight me, like you did with the leak from NABU.

  17. I support the decision of facebook.
    As the world’s largest social networking platform, fairness is the most important. It should be fairer in political speech.
    https://www.clipartkey.com/view/hoJRbT_facebook-logo-png-clipart-vector-transparent-facebook-logo/

  18. This ad is at least literally true; it misleads by omission of relevant context. Any system for censoring false statements would have to be limited to ones that are indisputably literally false, which this statement isn’t.

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