Congressman Bill Posey Takes on Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook Censorship of Discussion of Vaccine Risk
Congressman Posey: Thank you madam chair and ranking member McHenry for holding this very informative hearing For many of us Facebook is the reality in our business and our personal lives. I communicate with my constituents as well as my friends through the platform daily many benefits accrue from the service yet in the midst these great benefits great challenges have emerged and I want to welcome you to this hearing Mr. Zuckerberg.
I believe Facebook is a great innovation that as much potential for good that we welcomed an innovation together with the controversies that have spawned unfortunately some in politics and the media see their role as cajoling Facebook to censor its users speech. In April I wrote to you that I was disappointed at Facebook would consider restricting free speech rights to communicate the risk associated with vaccinations – and I support vaccinations of children and adults.
But I also support open and frank communication of the risk of vaccination every person should make vaccination decisions with full information in recognition of the uncertainties the risk of vaccinations. The federal government has created a vaccination trust fund that has paid out over four billion dollars to compensate those who have been injured by vaccinations. There’s no more clear or persuasive statement about the risk associated with vaccinations then the existence and the payment record at that fund. From time to time medical research has established case and context of specific risks associated with vaccinations. I wrote you when another member of the House made claims that the risk of vaccination should not exist and that Facebook should police communications related to vaccination risk. Today you testified you believed in giving people a voice.
Mr. Zuckerberg, is Facebook able to assure us that it will support users fair and open discussions and communications related to the risk as well as the benefits of vaccinations?
Mark Zuckerberg: Congressman thanks for the question we do care deeply about giving people of voice and freedom of expression. Those are some of the founding values of the company. At the same time we also hear consistently from our community that people want us to stop the spread of misinformation. So what we do is we try to focus on on misinformation that has the potential to lead to physical harm or imminent harm and that can include especially misleading health advice. There was a hoax that was going viral a number of months back that those are saying…
Congressman Posey: Look for this subject because our time is very limited. Are you 100% confident that vaccines pose no risk of injury to any person is planet?
Mark Zuckerberg: Congressman, I don’t think it would be possible for anyone to be a hundred percent confident, but my understanding of the scientific consensus is that it is important that people get their vaccines.
Congressman Posey: But you said your platform you want to you believe in giving people a voice. Shouldn’t somebody have the opportunity to express an opinion different from yours? I mean over four billion dollars has been paid out by the fund to thousands of people. Don’t you think people should be able to have information to make an informed choice?
Mark Zuckerberg: Congressman I do, and that’s why we don’t stop people from posting on their page something that’s wrong but if someone wants to post vaccine anti-vaccination content, or if they want to join a group where people are discussing that content we don’t prevent them from doing that but what we do is we don’t go out of our way to make sure that our group recommendation systems try to show people or encouraged people to join those groups. We discourage that.
Congressman Posey: Okay, well how do you discourage that?
Mark Zuckerberg: Well, there are a number of different tactics, for example if someone is typing into the search results into the search box something that that might lead to anti-vax content we don’t recommend anti-vax searches to them. If you type in the name of a group exactly you can you can get the group, we’re not gonna hide it, we’re not going to prevent you from joining it. But we’re not going to recommend or go out of our way to show people content that would encourage people to join those groups but people can share that content.
Congressman Posey: Many people harmed by this policy are in fact parents with disabled children, and I don’t think we or you should be so quick to turn our backs on them. If you look at the statistics, I think you’re making a bad mistake.
My time is expired I yield back thank you.