Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that the FBI pressured Facebook to block the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Zuckerberg made the revelation during an appearance on Joe Rogan’s hugely popular podcast.
He had gone on “The Joe Rogan Experience” to talk about the future technology coming from Facebook’s parent company Meta.
However, Zuckerberg ended up spending a lot of time talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop story and how the social media platform handles misinformation and truth.
Zuckerberg said the FBI came to Facebook and warned them about a possible dump of “Russian propaganda” before the Hunter Biden laptop story broke.
Although Zuckerberg then misleadingly claimed he did not block the story from being shared as Twitter famously did.
While Facebook did not outright block the story, Zuckerberg did acknowledge that Facebook reduced the distribution of the story until “independent” left-wing “fact-checkers” investigated it.
The reduced distribution meant that it didn’t appear in people’s News Feed which, in turn, stopped it from spreading as a normal story would.
Twitter, on the other hand, outright blocked the story.
“So we took a different path than Twitter,” Zuckerberg said.
“Basically, the background here is the FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was the — we thought that there was, a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump of — that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.’
“So our protocol is different from Twitter’s,” he continued.
“What Twitter did is they said ‘You can’t share this at all.’
“Um, we didn’t do that.
“If something’s reported to us as potentially, um, misinformation, important misinformation, we also use this third party fact-checking program, cause we don’t wanna be deciding what’s true and false.
“I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being, um, being determined, whether it was false.
“The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it.
“So you could still share it.
“You could still consume it.”
However, despite Zuckerberg’s downplaying, the “reduced distribution” had a massive impact on suppressing the story.
While users could still technically share the story on Facebook, nobody else would see that shared post.
Rogan asked the meaning of “decreased distribution,” and Zuckerberg explained that the story appeared lower on people’s newsfeeds to a “meaningful” degree.
“We weren’t, sort of, as black and white about it as Twitter,” Zuckerberg said.
“We just kind of thought, ‘Hey look, if the FBI, which, you know, I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement. They come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something. Then I wanna take that seriously.'”
“Did they specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?” Rogan asked.
“Uh, no, I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it was, it basically fit the pattern,” Zuckerberg said.
“Yeah. I mean, it sucks,” he continued.
“I mean, it turned out after the fact, I mean the fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false, right.
“So basically, it had this period [until after the election] where it was getting less distribution.
“I think it probably, it sucks though, I think in the same way that probably having to go through like a criminal trial, but being proven innocent in the end, sucks.
“Like it still sucks that you had to go through a criminal trial, but at the end you’re free.
“I don’t know if the answer would’ve been don’t do anything or don’t have any process,” he said.
“I think the process was pretty reasonable, you know, it’s — we still let people share it, but obviously you don’t want situations like that.”