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Social Network Writer to FB CEO: Stop 'Assaulting Truth'

Aaron Sorkin takes Mark Zuckerberg to task for not vetting political ads
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2019 10:55 AM CDT
In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo, Aaron Sorkin arrives at the Academy Awards luncheon for nominees at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Mark Zuckerberg has been making the rounds defending Facebook's decision not to fact-check or censor political ads, saying he doesn't feel the social media site should be in the business of stymieing free speech. Except screenwriter Aaron Sorkin doesn't exactly think that's what Facebook's move qualifies as, detailing his thoughts in a new open letter in the New York Times. Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay for The Social Network, a biographical drama about the founding of Facebook that apparently ticked off Zuckerberg, notes that he, too, believes in free expression and the First Amendment, but that, when it comes to false or misleading political ads, "this can't possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together." Sorkin brings up a current ad on Facebook with a falsehood about Joe Biden.

"Every square inch of that is a lie and it's under your logo," Sorkin writes. "That's not defending free speech, Mark, that's assaulting truth." Sorkin also brings up an incident that took place during an advance private screening of The Social Network for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who, after viewing it, said to producers, "How can you do this to a kid?" Sorkin notes the "kid" Zuckerberg was 27 at the time, then points out the actual youngsters who could be exposed to political ads on Facebook. "How can we do this to tens of millions of kids?" Sorkin writes. "Are we really going to run an ad that claims Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick?" His piece here. (Meanwhile, Twitter just made a big move on political ads.)

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