Failure to remove altered video shows Facebook enabled Russian election meddling -Pelosi

(Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that Facebook Inc’s refusal to remove a heavily edited video that attempted to make her look incoherent had convinced her the company wittingly enabled Russian election interference.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/File Photo

“When something like Facebook says, ‘I know this is false … – it’s a lie – but we’re showing it anyway,’ well to me it says two things. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt on Russia … I thought it was unwittingly, but clearly they wittingly were accomplices and enablers of false information to go across Facebook,” Pelosi said to applause at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said attacks like those on Facebook also made it more difficult to recruit candidates for public office because “why would you subject yourself to that.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Pelosi’s remarks.

“There is a false video that the Republicans are putting out on Facebook,” Pelosi said.

The video of Pelosi was slowed to make her speech seem slurred and edited to make it appear she repeatedly stumbled over her words.

President Donald Trump retweeted the video, writing “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE.” He later told a reporter the House speaker, who is 79, had “lost it.”

The Washington Post reported last week that YouTube responded by removing the video because it violated company policies on acceptable content. The Post said Twitter did not comment but Facebook declined to remove the videos, even after its independent fact-checkers deemed the content false.

“We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” the Post quoted Facebook as saying in a statement.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities with conspiracy to defraud the United States, among other charges, as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election that included widespread use of social media sites to spread misinformation.

Facebook has been criticized over its content policies by politicians from across the spectrum. Republican senators have accused it of discriminating against conservative viewpoints and suppressing free speech, suggesting antitrust action could fix the situation.

Facebook, along with rivals Twitter and Google, have denied their platforms are politically biased.

Reporting by David Alexander, Susan Cornwell and Chris Sanders; editing by Bill Berkrot

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