Facebook CEO on political ads: People should “judge for themselves the character of politicians”

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Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is doubling down on his company’s decision to not take down political ads that contain false information.

“What I believe is that in a democracy, it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their own judgments. And, you know, I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news,” Zuckerberg told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King in his first network TV interview with his wife, Priscilla Chan.

“But a small group of your employees… about 200 wrote a letter saying that they wish that you would reconsider. ‘Because,’ they said, ‘free speech and paid speech are not the same,'” King said, adding, “Do they have a point?”

“Well, this is a clearly a very complex issue, and a lot of people have– have a lot of different opinions,” Zuckerberg said. “At the end of the day, I just think that in a democracy, people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”

“Even if the ads are– contain false information? That’s the– that’s the issue,” King said.

“I think that people should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians,” Zuckerberg said.

Last month, it was revealed Zuckerberg had an undisclosed meeting with President Trump in October at the White House after a public Oval Office meeting in September.

“What was the nature of the meeting? Can you say?” King asked.

“Sure. I mean… we talked about a number of things that were– that were on his mind. And– and some of the topics that you’d read about in the news around– around our work,” Zuckerberg said.

The dinner was not disclosed by the White House and only became public after the fact through news reports. It came as President Trump was openly discouraging Facebook from banning political ads.

King pointed out some people would say “the optics weren’t good,” adding, “Did he try to lobby you in any way?”

“No. I mean, I don’t think that that’s– that– I think some of the stuff that people talk about or think gets discussed and these discussions are not really how– how that works… I also want to respect that it was a private dinner and… private discussion,” Zuckerberg said.

At the same time, Facebook faces anti-trust investigations into its dominance of the social media marketplace. At least two federal agencies and 47 U.S. states and territories are asking if the company engages in anti-competitive behavior.
“There’s no question that there are real issues that– that we need to keep on working on… But I think it’s important to not lose track of just the enormous good that can be done by bringing people together and building community,” Zuckerberg said.

People who know Zuckerberg well say Facebook wouldn’t be the company it is today without the influence of Chan, his wife who is a teacher and doctor.
“When Mark and I talk about these issues together, it’s like I also have the lens of being an educator and pediatrician that’s worked deeply with families and individuals, and all types of communities. And when I zoom out, I also see that these are societal problems,” Chan said. “These are not problems that one person, one company, can fix on their own… there’s not gonna be some silver bullet, but we need to work together as a society for that steady progress.”

Tune in Tuesday, December 3, on “CBS This Morning” for more of Zuckerberg and Chan’s conversation with King, where King visited the couple at home and the offices of their philanthropic company, The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, which turns four years old Tuesday.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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