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21 Jan 2020 20:00
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  •   Home > News > International

    US actor Mark Hamill deletes Facebook account over ad policy

    Star Wars star Mark Hamill deletes his Facebook account and criticises the decision of the social media giant's founder Mark Zuckerberg to allow political advertisements to contain false statements.

    Star Wars star Mark Hamill has deleted his Facebook account, criticising its founder Mark Zuckerberg's decision to allow political advertisements to contain false statements ahead of the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

    Taking to rival social media platform Twitter, Hamill explained his decision had come after the company's announcement it would continue to allow political campaigns to target particular demographics, and that it would not be removing false information.

    "So disappointed that #MarkZuckerberg values profit more than truthfulness that I've decided to delete my @Facebook account," he wrote.

    "I know this is a big 'Who Cares?' for the world at large, but I'll sleep better at night. #PatriotismOverProfits."

    Hamill joins a number of other famous people who have deleted their Facebook pages, including Jim Carrey, Elon Musk, Will Ferrell and Cher.

    Mr Zuckerberg has downplayed the role of political advertising in contributing to the company's profits, rather framing the issue as one of freedom of speech.

    The company announced last week that it would provide users greater control over which political ads they see, however would not fact-check them or remove those that lie, despite growing pressure to rein in the spread of fake news on the platform.

    In a blog post, Facebook explained it would not be joining its big tech rivals in censoring falsehoods, because "people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all."

    "While Twitter has chosen to block political ads and Google has chosen to limit the targeting of political ads, we are choosing to expand transparency and give more controls to people when it comes to political ads," said the statement.

    Facebook has argued that the US should implement an industry-wide regulation which would force social media platforms to rein in false political ads.

    "Ultimately, we don't think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry," it said.

    Facebook's new policy dismissed as 'window dressing'

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign team called the announcement "more window dressing" used to justify "their decision to allow paid misinformation".

    In October, Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the company would be banning all political advertising worldwide.

    Mr Dorsey said online political ads presented "entirely new challenges to civic discourse".

    "This isn't about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today's democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle."

    Hamill is not the first celebrity to publicly criticise Facebook over its ad policy.

    British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen recently penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which he dismissed as "utter nonsense" Mr Zuckerberg's argument that Facebook is protecting "free expression".

    "Facebook alone already counts about a third of the world's population among its users. Social media platforms should not give bigots and paedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target victims," he wrote.

    "If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants to kill Jews, would the restaurant owner be required to serve him an elegant eight-course meal? Of course not."

    Facebook recently said it would remove so-called deepfakes and other manipulated videos from its platform in the lead up to the US presidential election this year.

    It comes after Facebook last year refused to remove a heavily edited video that attempted to make US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem incoherent by slurring her speech and making it appear like she was repeatedly stumbling over her words.

    "We don't have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true," a Facebook spokesperson told the ABC in May 2019.

    "We work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community."


    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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