Bill Maher Blasts Facebook, But Defends Refusal to Fact-Check Political Ads: ‘Figuring Out When Politicians Are Full of Sh*t’ Is Voters’ Job
Bill Maher took aim at Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in his “New Rule” segment, but then defended the social media giant’s controversial decision not to fact-check political ads run on its site.
The HBO comedian started his monologue with a long indictment of Facebook’s complicity in jeopardizing its user’s privacy and blasting it as a “timesuck” that “makes you stupider.” Speaking in split-screen with an image of Zuckerberg testifying before Congress, Maher questioned the online dominance of the social network and the leadership of its CEO.
“Why did we put this guy in charge?” Maher snarked to applause and cheers. “Is he even one of us, a human? He looks like a first attempt at whittling a puppet.”
“Why is the world’s most socially awkward person in charge of social media?” he added. “You can’t watch the news these days without seeing some story about Facebook — hosting Russian bots, selling user data, getting into cryptocurrency, refusing to fact check political ads…and it keeps growing.”
“It makes you stupider, because there are only so many hours in a day, and you can get only so much accomplished, if you’re constantly checking to see what everybody you ever met had for lunch,” he joked. “People are dumber because they read less. Facebook should be called Timesuck.”
However, Maher changed course when it came to discussing Facebook’s recent decision on political ads, which has drawn widespread condemnation and Congressional scrutiny. Last month, the Elizabeth Warren campaign cleverly mocked Facebook’s new policy, by running an ad on Facebook that falsely claimed Facebook had endorsed Trump’s re-election campaign.
“Now Zuckerberg has decided Facebook will not be policing political speech on their site, or fact-checking any political ads. and this only applies to politics,” Maher explained. And I hate to tell you, but that’s the way it should be. Do you want political speech policed by the accuracy regulations departments at Facebook and Twitter? Not me. I’m always going to come down on the side of free speech.”
“Figuring out when politicians are full of shit is the responsibility of the voters, and no one else,” he added. “People have to build up an immunity to falsehoods — we can’t pass the buck to a referee, because a referee is still human, and even if we used a computer to do it, [Donald] Trump would say the computer was an ‘angry Democrat.”
“There is another solution: Don’t use Facebook at all,” Maher offered to applause. “I never got the whole point of staying in touch with so many people I don’t really care about. …You don’t need to follow Gary from high school, who was your lab partner in chem class. You forgot chem, you can forget him. You don’t need his ‘status update.’ His status is he never left town. And, guess what, because of Facebook, you haven’t either.”
Watch the video above, via HBO.
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