Bill Maher Defends Facebook’s Refusal To Fact-Check Political Ads

Bill Maher Performs During New York Comedy Festival at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2016 in New York City.
Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

Facebook recently committed to allowing political ads to run on their platform without fact-checking them, which has been criticized by some who believe the company should be responsible for determining if an ad on its platform is true or false. Others, such as Real Time host Bill Maher, are supportive of the company’s decision.

According to Maher, “political speech” should not be “policed” by social media companies, Breitbart reports.

He began by highlighting that the new fact-checking policy only applies to political ads.

“On Facebook, you cannot say, Pizza Hut murders puppies and puts it in the sauce. But you can say, Pizza Hut murders puppies and puts it in the sauce on orders from Bernie Sanders. And I hate to tell you, but that’s the way it should be.”

The 63-year-old comedian suggested that leaving fact-checking in the hands of “accuracy regulation departments” of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter is not something he wants. He also claimed that he’s always going to be supportive of free speech.

“And figuring out when politicians are full of sh*t is the responsibility of the voters, and no one else. People have to build up an immunity to falsehoods. We can’t pass the buck to a referee,” he concluded before highlighting that referees are ultimately still human.

Vox reports that the controversy over platforms like Facebook fact-checking comes down to the question of whether they should be considered publishers, which opens them up to lawsuits over the content they choose to post. While platforms have legal protections from the content provided on their website, they currently also moderate content and maintain legal protections, which some believe is unfair. The debate appears to be far from over, but Facebook’s decision to leave political ads untouched seems to be a favorable decision for people who believe social media platforms like Facebook are doing too much policing of their content.

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In similar news, Twitter recently announced that it will be banning all political ads starting November 22. According to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the reach of political messages should be earned as opposed to bought.

Dorsey continued, saying that paid political ads are tantamount to forcing a message on specific groups of users, especially when such messages are targeted to certain groups via advertising tools — something Dorsey believes provides wealthier campaigns with an unfair advantage.

The 42-year-old entrepreneur also announced that Twitter is banning issue-based ads, closing a potential loophole for politicians who want to promote their campaign’s core message without using overtly political ads.