Oct 31, 2019

Aaron Sorkin takes on Facebook's political ad stance in NYT open letter

Photo: Sha Hanting/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

Aaron Sorkin, who wrote "The Social Network," penned an open letter in the New York Times to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the company's stance on political ads on its platform, saying it is "not defending free speech" but "assaulting truth."

How it works, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: Facebook's policy lets politicians make just about any claim they want, in ads or posts, including repeating verbatim a false claim that has already been labeled elsewhere as false. That means they can misstate their own record or that of an opponent.

What Sorkin is saying:

  • "[T]his can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together. Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives."
  • "Last year, over 40 percent of Americans said they got news from Facebook. Of course the problem could be solved by those people going to a different news source, or you could decide to make Facebook a reliable source of public information."
  • "I hope [Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg] walks into your office, leans in (as she suggested we do in her best selling book), and says, 'How can we do this to tens of millions of kids? Are we really going to run an ad that claims Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick?'"

The other side: Zuckerberg hit back, posting a quote on Facebook from Sorkin's screenplay for the film "The American President."

"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say: You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free."

Go deeper: Twitter casts itself as the anti-Facebook

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

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Mexico reported its highest single-day death toll on Tuesday, after 501 people died from the coronavirus, per data from Johns Hopkins and the country's health ministry.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,588,299 — Total deaths: 350,417 — Total recoveries — 2,286,827Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,625 — Total deaths: 98,902 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy