Mark Zuckerberg opposed pushing Spanish-language voting information on WhatsApp because he thought it would look partisan

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images/Andrew Harnik/AP
  • Mark Zuckerberg objected to pushing a Spanish-language voting resource on WhatsApp in 2020.
  • The Facebook CEO argued that sending millions of WhatsApp users voting resources would look partisan.
  • Zuckerberg’s opposition to the effort was exposed as part of a major leak of internal Facebook documents.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opposed pushing a Spanish-language version of Facebook’s “voting information center” on WhatsApp, arguing that it wouldn’t be “politically neutral,” The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Last year, employees at WhatsApp, the massively popular messaging app owned by Facebook, proposed sending a chat bot or link to millions of WhatsApp users to help provide accurate information about how to register to vote, become a poll worker, or request an absentee ballot. But Zuckerberg said the effort would make the company look partisan, according to an anonymous source who spoke with the Post and internal documents provided to a consortium of 17 news organizations by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Instead, WhatsApp, which has more than 2 billion users, allowed users to flag election misinformation or access factual information about voting by messaging a chat bot.

The tech giant launched its “voting information center” on both Facebook and Instagram in August 2020 and described the digital center as “a one-stop shop to give people in the US the tools and information they need to make their voices heard at the ballot box.” The company celebrated the effort as “the largest voting information campaign in American history” and said it aimed to register 4 million people to vote.

While President Joe Biden won 59% of the country’s Hispanic voters in 2020, former President Donald Trump made notable gains in Latino communities. Trump won 38% of Hispanic voters overall – 13 points more than congressional Republicans won in the 2018 midterms. The ex-president won 28% of Latino voters in 2016 after campaigning heavily on his aggressive anti-immigration proposals.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have criticized reporting based on the leaked documents. A spokesperson for Facebook didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.