In a tweet Sunday evening, the Star Wars actor noted that his news isn’t exactly going to be Earth-shattering, but that at the same time he must stick to his own principles.
“So disappointed that #MarkZuckerberg values profit more than truthfulness that I’ve decided to delete my @Facebook account. I know this is a big “Who Cares?” for the world at large, but I’ll sleep better at night. #PatriotismOverProfits,” he wrote.
His tweet also included a link to a New York Times article about Facebook’s policy that informed his decision to quit.
Facebook’s policy regarding political ads is at once controversial and at odds with the policy of another major player in the social media game — Twitter. As the Times reported, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has steadfastly refused to enact any sort of fact-checking mechanism into its political ads, instead allowing the ads to be posted and disseminated to targeted users absent any controls.
There’s a partisan divide at play here. Conservatives have generally been supportive of Facebook’s hands-off policy when it comes to targeted political ads, and claim that any attempt to affect controls over the ad content, particularly when it comes to ads favoring conservative politicians and causes, is tantamount to censorship. Liberals, such as Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, say that, in failing to fact-check the ads it allows on its platform, effectively gives Facebook free rein to disseminate lies.
“Facebook is paying for its own glowing fake news coverage, so it’s not surprising they’re standing their ground on letting political figures lie to you,” Warren said.
However, Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, says that by allowing the ads to be disseminated absent any external control, the content and truthfulness of those ads is left open to discussion by Facebook users at large.
“We have based [our political ad policy] on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public,” he says.
Other social media platforms have gotten out of the political ad game entirely, which brings with it its own set of thorny partisan issues.
Twitter, for example, has decided not to allow any political ads, full stop. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says that the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”
Brad Parscale, Donald Trump’s campaign manager for the 2020 election, said that Twitter’s decision was a partisan act intended to silence conservatives.