Lawmakers hammered a Facebook VP over misinformation on its platform and loopholes in its ban on deepfakes

Facebook Vice President of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Wednesday. House Energy and Commerce Committee / YouTube
  • House lawmakers pressed a Facebook executive over the spread of misinformation on the platform during a committee hearing Wednesday.
  • Representatives questioned Facebook’s decision to fact-check rather than remove false information published on its platform, as well as loopholes in its ban on deepfakes.
  • Facebook had announced the new deepfake ban just one day before the hearing.
  • Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, told the committee that Facebook is working to speed up and expand its fact-checking operation.
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A Facebook vice president faced tough questions from lawmakers Wednesday, when members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voiced alarm over misinformation on the platform.

With the 2020 election approaching, representatives raised concerns about the propensity for misleading information to go viral on Facebook, slamming the company’s policy against removing content that fact-checkers deem false.

“Congress has unfortunately taken a laissez-faire approach to deceptive and unfair practices online in the past decade,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat. “The result is big tech failed to respond to the threat.”

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, defended the company’s fact-checking practices, arguing that Facebook aims to protect free speech by leaving false information up on the site alongside a disclaimer that notes a fact-checker deemed it as false.

Pressed by lawmakers, Bickert also shined a light on how Facebook uses a mix of artificial intelligence and third-party fact-checkers to weed out misinformation. According to Bickert, algorithms detect when comments under a post voice suspicions that the post is fake, automatically flagging it for fact-checkers.

Lawmakers also hammered Facebook over its new ban on deepfakes announced just one day before the hearing. Under the new policy, Facebook will remove deepfake videos created with high-tech editing software, but will not remove less-sophisticated misleading videos, like those artificially slowed down or taken out of context.

In response, Bickert said that Facebook’s goal is to speed up the process by which false videos are flagged by fact-checkers.

“Our enforcement is not perfect, however we’ve made huge strides and that is shown by the dramatic increase in posts we remove,” Bickert said.

Watch Bickert’s full testimony here.