Mark Zuckerberg tells Joe Rogan Facebook was wrong to ban The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story

Mark Zuckerberg tells Joe Rogan Facebook was wrong to ban The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story

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Mark Zuckerberg finally admitted on Thursday that Facebook dropped the ball when the company banned the sharing of The Post’s exclusive report on Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election.

The billionaire CEO of Meta said he regretted Facebook’s handling of the bombshell story during an appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience” — but he still defended the process as “pretty reasonable.”

Zuckerberg opened up about the controversial media suppression after the host pressed him to explain his views on how tech platforms should handle content moderation on sensitive subjects.

“When something like that turns out to be real, is there regret for not having it evenly distributed and for throttling the distribution of that story?” Rogan asked about The Post’s Hunter Biden scoop.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Zuckerberg said. “It turned out after the fact, the fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false … I think it sucks, though, in the same way that probably having to go through a criminal trial but being proven innocent in the end sucks.”

He said the platform opted to limit sharing on the story — but not halt it entirely — after the FBI told Meta employees to be wary of Russian propaganda ahead of the election.

“Did [the FBI] specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?” Rogan asked, referring to The Post’s article.

“No, I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern,” Zuckerberg said.

He also said, “The FBI basically came to us… [saying], ‘Hey, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on a notice that there is about to be some kind of a dump that is similar to that, so be just vigilant.’”

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed on to a letter that claimed the laptop story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

“Our protocol is different than Twitter’s. What Twitter did is they said you can’t share this at all. We didn’t do that,” Zuckerberg said.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s handling of The Post’s report.
@PowerfulJRE

Rogan agreed that Facebook’s approach was “certainly much more reasonable than Twitter’s stance.” The podcast host also acknowledged the difficult decision facing social media platforms regarding politically sensitive stories ahead of an election.

“I just don’t think they looked at it hard enough. When the New York Post is talking about it, they’re pretty smart about what they release and what they don’t release,” Rogan said.

“For the five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false, the distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it,” Zuckerberg added. “You could still share it, you could still consume it.”

Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan pressed Mark Zuckerberg for his views on content moderation.
@PowerfulJRE

While Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook had also reduced distribution of the report on its own platform, he tried to defend the process as “reasonable.”

“I think the process was pretty reasonable,” he added. “A lot of people were still able to share it. We got a lot of complaints that that was the case.

“This is a hyper-political issue, so depending on what side of the political spectrum, you either think we didn’t censor enough or censored it way too much, but we weren’t as black and white about it as Twitter,” he added.

The tech CEO also took thinly veiled swipes at Twitter, calling the rival social network’s ban overly “black and white.”

Twitter briefly suspended The Post’s account in 2020 after the laptop exposé revealed the existence of tens of thousands of emails between the president’s son and business associates. The emails revealed how Biden’s son leveraged his political access in his overseas business dealings.

New York Post cover for Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
New York Post cover for Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
New York Post cover for Thursday, October 15, 2020.
New York Post cover for Thursday, October 15, 2020.
Hunter Biden
The Post exclusively reported on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election.

Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook took a “different path than Twitter.” Republicans also have accused Facebook of suppressing conservative voices.

The Post has reached out to Twitter for comment on Zuckerberg’s remarks.

Hunter Biden
Twitter suspended The Post’s Twitter account and blocked sharing of the article after the report was published.

The tech CEO admitted that sharing of the story was meaningfully limited on Facebook after its initial publication.

“I think the right way is to establish principles for governance that try to be balanced and not having the decision-making too centralized,” Zuckerberg responded. “It’s hard for people to accept that some team at Meta or that I personally am making these decisions.”

Zuckerberg took another swipe at Twitter in a different portion of the nearly three-hour podcast interview with Rogan, saying that it’s “hard to spend time on” the platform “without getting too upset.”

He contrasted Twitter with Instagram, which is owned by his company. Zuckerberg said that it was “easy to spend time on Instagram and absorb a lot of positivity.”

Additional reporting by Ariel Zilber

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