Former Vice President Joe Biden is pushing Facebook to strengthen rules regarding election-year misinformation on the platform even as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee distributes misinformation about COVID-19 and President Donald Trump.
Facebook’s inability to police political misinformation and disinformation “corrodes our democracy” and allows the president “to say anything,” Biden wrote in a letter to the Silicon Valley giant Thursday. The former vice president asked his Twitter followers to sign the letter in an attempt to pressure Facebook into acting before the November election.
“Folks, we saw in 2016 what can happen when social media platforms are left unchecked and allow disinformation to run rampant. It puts the very integrity of our elections at risk,” Biden wrote in a tweet Thursday. “We simply cannot let it happen again in 2020.”
Biden and other Democrats criticized Facebook after CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to remove or flag a Trump post in May referencing looting and “THUGS.” (RELATED: Biden Asks Supporters To Help Him ‘Fix Facebook To Protect Democracy And Beat Trump’)
Trump’s post was in reference to protests against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident showed. Zuckerberg reportedly defended the decision as an adherence to free speech principles.
Since 2016, Facebook has created an independent oversight body, wherein the company’s platform can impartially protect free speech and create an arbitration system. The body is made up of a bipartisan crew of conservative and liberal judges to help determine whether specific comments, posts or links comply with Facebook’s terms of service.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone dismissed Biden’s open letter, telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that, “[t]here is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.” Zuckerberg reportedly defended the decision as adhering to free speech principles.
Biden has misinformed his supporters and voters repeatedly on the campaign trail. Here are seven times the former vice president made false claims about the coronavirus pandemic, Trump, and other election-related issues.
Biden Falsely Says Trump “Owes” China Money
Biden promoted fake news from a Politico report claiming the president “owes” millions of dollars to the Bank of China.
Politico reported in an April 24 article that Trump currently “owes” millions of dollars to the Bank of China and that “the loan is due soon,” before editing the story after determining Trump did not, in fact, owe the Bank of China money.
Biden made the comment after being asked during a CBS interview on April 28 — days after Politico corrected its article – if Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China make the former VP more vulnerable.
“No, I don’t believe so at all,” Biden replied. “My son’s business dealings were not anything where everybody – what he’s talking about. Not even remotely, number one. Nothing to do with me, number two.”
He added: “And talk about business dealings – look at the business dealings the president has with China. He owes, apparently, millions of dollars to the Bank of China.”
Biden Falsely Claims He Found GOP Votes For Obamacare
Biden falsely said at a rally in December 2019 that he found Republican votes to pass the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, while he was vice president.
“We need someone with a proven ability to bring people together and do the hard work of getting legislation passed,”Biden said at a rally in Texas. “I’ve done that before … finding Republican votes for the Recovery Act, Obamacare, helping keep us from falling into a Great Depression.”
Obamacare passed on a partisan basis in the Senate, 60–39, in December 2009. Every Democrat and two independents voted for it, while every Senate Republican voted against. (RELATED: Justice Department Looks To End Obamacare Completely)
The House passed the Senate bill with a 219–212 vote in 2010, with 34 Democrats and all 178 Republicans voting against the bill, which became a flash point that ultimately made passing future bipartisan legislation nearly impossible.
Biden Campaign Falsely Suggests Trump Called Virus A “Hoax”
The vice president falsely suggested that Trump referred to the coronavirus pandemic as a “hoax” during the president’s Feb. 28 campaign rally in South Carolina. The virus originated in China and has reportedly killed 116,000 people in the United States.
Biden tweeted a video in March that misleadingly spliced together snippets of Trump saying “coronavirus” followed by, “this is their new hoax.” In reality, Trump was referring to Democrats’ political reaction to the virus, calling their criticism of his response a “hoax.”
“The video makes it seem like Trump is calling the disease itself a hoax, which he hasn’t done. The words are Trump’s, but the editing is Biden’s,” PolitiFact noted before rating the claim “false.”
Biden Falsely Said Trump Slashed The CDC’s Budget
Media fact-checkers hit Biden in February after he falsely accused the president of slashing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget.
“We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort,” Biden said at a Feb. 26 debate.
Biden was “wrong to say the agencies have seen their money cut,” the AP noted in its fact check of Biden’s claims. Trump “proposed cuts but Congress ignored him and increased financing instead. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect,” the fact check stated.
Biden Falsely Said Trump Dismissed WHO’s Help
The former vice president was also hit for falsely suggesting Trump rejected the World Health Organization’s attempt to provide the U.S. coronavirus tests.
“The World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them,” Biden stated during the March 15 Democratic debate.
“The WHO never offered to sell test kits to the United States,” PolitiFact said in a fact check that month. (RELATED: Top WHO Official Won Election With China’s Help. Now He’s Running Interference For China On Coronavirus)
Biden Falsely Says Trump Called White Supremacists “Very Fine People”
Biden began his 2020 presidential run on a false claim that Trump called white supremacists “very fine people” after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, three years ago.
“Very fine people?” Biden said in an April 2019 video launching his campaign for president. “With those words, the President of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”
Biden omitted important context to Trump’s comments in which the president noted in comments reacting to the rally that the “fine people” were those who were there to protest the removal of a confederate statue.
Trump went on to say: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”
Biden Falsely Says He Was “Arrested” In South Africa
Biden claimed on the campaign trail in February that he was arrested in the 1970s while trying to visit then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa.
“When I said arrested, I was not able to — I was not able to move. Cops would not let me go with them [the Congressional Black Caucus],” Biden said in a CNN interview that month.
His campaign clarified the false claim on Feb. 25, saying that Biden was “separated from a congressional delegation.”
“I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped,” Biden said.