WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Reuters) – A Facebook Inc (FB.O) executive said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the company does not believe its social media service is a major contributor to political polarization which has become widespread in the United States.
The company’s vice president of policy and global affairs Nick Clegg spoke ahead of an expected Sunday night segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” featuring a whistleblower who alleges the company acted too quickly to lift certain restrictions related to the elections that she had put in place around the November 2020 competition.
Clegg acknowledged that the company’s platform can serve as a vehicle for hate speech and disinformation.
“The way people exchange information (…) is now done online,” he said in the interview. “So, of course, as one of the biggest social media platforms, we have a responsibility to understand where we are contributing negative and extreme content, hate speech or disinformation etc.”
The whistleblower is expected to testify at a Senate hearing on Tuesday about what one of the senators announcing the meeting called the toxic effects of the social media company on young users.
Clegg dismissed as “ridiculous” that social media should bear responsibility for the deadly Jan.6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, fueled by his false claims that his electoral defeat was the result of a widespread fraud.
“The insurgency that day falls directly on the people who inflicted the violence and on those who encouraged them, including President Trump,” Clegg said. “I think it gives people a false confidence in assuming that there must be a technological or technical explanation for the problems of political polarization in the United States… It’s too easy to say it’s Facebook’s fault. “
Last week, U.S. Senators told Facebook about its plans to better protect young users of its apps, drawing on leaked internal research that showed the social media giant was aware of how its Instagram application was harming the mental health of adolescents.
Reporting by Scott Malone and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Steve Orlofsky
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