tv Elected Officials Journalists Discuss Combating Disinformation CSPAN July 30, 2021 11:05pm-12:06am EDT
infrastructure deal is being finalized. roll call votes are possible after they gavel in at 11:00 eastern. watch live coverage on c-span two, online at c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. next, elected officials and journalists on efforts to combat online disinformation at an event with freedom house. they talk about disinformation surrounding the covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections. this is an hour. >> in today's session, misinformation and democracy, we will explore how the quality of the information you receive in the quality of information you produce can impact the quality of the democracy that you enjoy. it's a job of the media,
collecting facts and distribute in them to the public. that carries risk. what is it going to take to restore our shared sense of purpose through shared facts? to ultimately remind american democracy. we will examine that question today by talking to elected officials in georgia who have grappled with disinformation during their election. we will talk to experts and members of the media who are trying to strengthen our understanding of exactly what a fact is. we will hear from facebook. this hearing was made possible through a cross partisan group
of organizations including freedom house, the national center for civil and human rights, the george w. bush institute. for we begin, a word from our cohost, the president of freedom house. >> i'm the president of freedom house. on behalf of freedom house and our event cohost, the national center for civil and human rights, issue one in the george w. bush institute, i would like to welcome you to our event series, reimagining american democracy. we launched a series a few months ago in order to help address a critical challenge facing the u.s. today. the health of its democracy. this is our third episode. today, we are looking for solutions to an issue central to the work we do at freedom house. how do you prevent disinformation from destroying democracy while protecting free speech online?
in the digital age, during a global pandemic, at a time when political polarization is at an all-time high, this is no easy task. our speakers today include politicians, journalists, experts on social media, as well as executives from the social platforms many of us rely on to gather facts and information and make our voices heard. with that in mind, we hope you join the conversation today using our #, democracy reimagined. thank you for being here. i hope you learn something new -- please enjoy. >> thank you. once again, let me emphasize that we would love your participation. use the chat function on your screen to submit questions. for our first conversation, a
case study in disinformation, let me introduce our panelists. georgia's secretary of state and cfo to the georgia tech state, thank you for being here with us today. georgia made headlines in 2020 and president trump called into question the results of the presidential election in your state. there are many people who still believe that president trump was right and his claims of voter fraud in georgia are valid. for the record, was the 2020 election in georgia stolen? >> no. the election we had was fair and accurate at the end of the day. no election is ever perfect. look at all the points that we checked out. it never would have been enough to overturn the results. we reported and certified and they are accurate. president biden carried the
state of georgia. >> there's a narrative that it was stolen and it continues. is there any way to stop that? >> summit he asked what it's like when you're up against the president of the united states. is like a shovel going against the ocean. you can stop it. we should not stop it. we have to balance free speech. we have to make sure that people have the actual facts and we have a shared view of what those are. the use of social media has been so pervasive and weaponize. this started years ago. if you go back, things escalate. you can look at 1986. take a look at 2000 with the not my president. that laid the foundation. the same way in georgia in 2018.
stacey abrams has never conceded the governorship. there's a lot of disinformation. if i agree with that, it must be right. if i disagree with it, it is misinformation. that is the reality that we have to look at. >> do you have thoughts for getting over this hurdle? >> part of the issue we have now is because of the speed our society works at and with social media. very rarely do we have grown-ups in a room who are looking 10 downs -- 10 years down the line. everybody wants to win this week. the speaker of the house called the minority leader a more on yesterday. that doesn't say a lot to how were building bridges of understanding to keep things together moving forward. >> you are a public critic of president trump following his claims of voter fraud. why did you speak out?
did that contribute to the hostile environment? >> obviously. the truth is the truth and this is one of my pet peeves. this, my truth and your truth. there's just the truth. there's a set basis of the truth and the facts. unfortunately, he had the wrong numbers. he was misled by the people. at this point, he has to know that he lost the election. it's a great fundraising to -- tool. >> your thoughts on how we get past this? you still have people saying it was a steel. >> at the end of the day, we can talk about policies, we can talk about ideas. i think it comes down to character. that's what it gets down to. the values that our parents raised us by. we have to get back to that. is it truthful, honest? if we don't do a deep dive under
character, why don't we go to rotary? those four points that they put out at every meeting, is it helpful? does it build goodwill? we need to be mindful of what we say. we can say things but we know it will spit people up. let's try to move forward. you can be a conservative, people can be liberal, we can get together and have conversations and try to improve the situation and come up with real solutions for people. >> in an ideal world, most people would agree with you but that's not the world we are operating in right now. both of you have received all kinds of public school things and death threats for the position you took on the election results in georgia. you are running for reelection. my question is, why? >> i want to make sure we continue to have fair and honest elections in georgia. we have to balance accessibility with security.
people know that i will stand up and make hard calls. i will call out the county where they messed up on their elections for 25 years. might get something done about it. i want to stand up on the truth. there is the truth and we will make sure to make -- we will make sure that there's election integrity in georgia. >> you supported the new election laws that have impacted georgia. why did you need them if you had an election that was free and fair? why did you have to reform anything? >> after every election, we thought election reform. two years ago, we introduced a house bill which did a paper ballot system which allowed us to do that 100% hand recount of the election. in 2018, we needed to move away from signature backstops for balloting and move to driver's license number. they finally did it this year.
i will continue to look at how we make the process more fair, more objective, and remove the subjectivity of it. that helps election directors and voters have confidence. >> i'm no expert in the dorton election law. one specked of it, it would allow the state legislature to overrule local boards of election. on the face of it, that would seem to weaken our electoral process. perhaps promote even more extreme fear of the politicization of election results. what's your response to that? >> in the business world, we talk about carrot sticks. the state election board doesn't want to take over any county. eventually, if a county has been feeling since 1993 -- we finally have an accountability measure that if they don't improve, the state election board can look at replacing officials and making sure that we have well-run elections.
all 159 counties will run their elections well. >> couldn't be exploited for political gain? >> your question is an example of misinformation, unfortunately. the state legislature does not have a role in this other than to kick it off. the reality of the law is, there's a lot of due process in this. there has to be an investigation that goes for 30 days to bring it back to the state election board. the board says, yes this body needs to be removed and replaced with somebody else. there are time limits on it. after nine months, the county can appeal it to a superior court and say, there's no basis for this. the idea that the legislature can do this at any given time. the reality is, -- that's what many people said about the law. it's not true. the secretary has supported large portions of the law. part of the law is unnecessary.
the question you laid out there shows the problem with people having half information. you are asking a severe -- sincere question that is based on people skimming the law in a way that is not real. >> i appreciate that. do you want to respond to what was perceived as being retribution against you? was it? >> i think that the law speaks for itself. at the end of the day, the secretary of state has been the chair of the state election board for 60 years. if i had the ability and power to fix golden county, i would've done that. the state election board will go through the process. they have to find a chair. they never even put in a new chair.
the person has to be nonpartisan and has never done anything one way or the other. they share passionately about elections. i find that unicorn that cares about elections but has never lean left or right. that will be an interesting choice. >> as you know, the new election law has come under fire from various quarters including the department of justice which said it was enacted with the purpose of bridging -- abridging the right of black georgians to vote. your reactions? >> it's an offensive statement. look at the bill. going to photo id for absentee voting, that is supported by a majority of voters. any racial demographics, any political party, democrats and republicans. they understand that it's an objective measure. it is being used currently in minnesota with a democratic secretary of state.
they've been using it successfully for years. the doj is picking on georgia. they are not looking at what they do in new york or new jersey or delaware. we have more opportunities, more days of early voting than any of those states. >> there's a reality of this. before georgia passed anything, they bought the domain name jim crow 2.0. they were basing a lot of the stuff on what was originally introduced, which was unnecessary. the reality is that they would raise money off of this whatever was passed. they were going to say it's terrible and oppressive. they filed the motion to dismiss yesterday. the filing of the law, they filed the lawsuit three days after the act failed. this is about fundraising and politics. every side keeps escalating this
and politicizing it. somebody has been saying, we have to stop weaponizing this. >> both sides are doing it. is it doing serious damage to americans confidence in their electoral system? >> it has damaged confidence. it goes back to bush v gore. it got ramped up in 2016 when president trump won. they said it was russian collusion. stacey abrams lost. all that hurts voter confidence. what we've tried to do with this is make election management easier for election officials. also, help voters restore confidence that has been hit by both sides of the aisle. >> apparently it hasn't done that. let me get to some of our audience questions. this is a question for you. were there any early indicators
of character that people could've identified to help inform their evaluation of people lying about the 2020 election? voters could have clued into it before 2020. what would those have been? you have spoken about the criticality of good character. >> well, i tend to speak with a calm demeanor, a quiet voice, and i'm careful for the words that i use. someone in high office should always do that. i don't think we need to objective five people. i spent time in the general assembly. i was there for two years. i sat next to democrats on my left and my right. we would have conversations. we had respectful conversations. i want to make sure that we always have those conversations. we don't have 80 million twitter followers. we have a small office.
it's easy to get swamped. >> another question. she would like your perspective as to which media you trust and rely on for truth and facts. >> here's the fun part. i watch and listen to every side of everything. that helps to shade what people are thinking. i admit that i listen to npr. i also watch fox news. i used to watch a lot of morning joe but he got too far out there for me a few years back. i read the wall street journal. the washington post, the new york times. i look at blogs. i love national reviews. i'm all over the board. the main thing people have to do is hard to do. our information -- i want to find people who agree with me because it makes me feel better. you have to train yourself to get away from that idea.
understand that the villain icing that we've done on all sides, it wasn't just donald trump. we were building up to this point over the last few decades. from my point of view, this started around 1996 with robert bork and this escalated from there over time. i don't know how you unwind it. it takes somebody to be mature and not take advantage. the problem we have right now, we are continuing to do the same thing. raise money, say something outrageous and put it on youtube. gateway pundit has made a bank on the secretary and i. >> you have been in the eye of the firestorm of misinformation. any thoughts on how we stop this? >> i think all these things play themselves out. eventually, people will find
being angry and bitter isn't a selling combination anymore. people will start moving on with their lives. >> there's no sign of that happening so. >> i disagree with that. >> i think people are looking for alternatives or they are plugging out and getting on with their lives. taking up walking, hiking, whatever they want to do. they will do more productive things. i think that's a good thing. also, listening to plenty of sources. my dad said, you can't believe everything you read. people need to look at information. people are angry and bitter all the time. it is not an attractive way to grow up already. >> last word from you. >> the main thing was, i have faith in the american people to get through these kinds of
situations. the civil war was pretty bad. we had bombings in the late 60's. that was pretty terrible. we have a generation of young people now who have been raised with the internet. they are jaundiced about what they look out and understand. they are much more inclined to believe the things that are well produced. younger folks are a lot more discerning. that's not to be ageist. it's a reality i've seen. >> we have to leave it there. thank you to you both. appreciate you being here. >> thank you. >> we will be back in just a moment with our second panel. and were back. let me introduce our in pursuit of truth panel. please welcome the white house
correspondent, the co-ceo of the trust ratings tool news guard, and a technical research manager at the stanford internet observatory. when it comes to the facts, we are incredibly fractured society , different groups with different perceptions of what the truth might be. i'm wondering about the impact on american democracy. let me ask you all first, can american democracy survive without a shared set of facts? >> it's an interesting question. i would argue that it can't. the challenge is that there's a lot of trust and a lot of confidence in a lot of the foundational elements of the democratic process. things like trusting the outcome of an election.
>> your thoughts? can we survive if we don't agree what's on true? >> what we are seeing is evidence that it can't survive. we've always had people who didn't believe in institutions or didn't believe in real facts. i wrote a book about three years ago where i stumbled over an amazing fact which was, at the time, 10-15% of americans felt that barack obama was born outside of the united states and was a muslim. 15% of americans thought that 9/11 was an inside job by the bush administration. you have people on radically different sides of the aisle who just don't believe in basic facts. one of the things that news guard tries to do is to present
its ratings in a way that this to wish his opinion from fact. it's a fact that 9/11 was not an inside job. it's a fact that apricot pits will not her cancer. >> as you know, trust in the media has dropped precipitously in recent years. wondering why you think that is, as someone who practices journalism on a daily basis. >> yeah. i think that's part of it. first of all, yes, let me step back a little bit. there has been, at this point, a lack of trust in the media. part of it is because there is so much information that people can get from all over. the first panel touched on this. how people can cater their media to hear what they want to hear. they can confirm their biases.
if they feel that apricots cure cancer, they can find a research to support that. right? that's part of the issue. absolutely. people can pick and choose. they don't have to necessarily be discerning. i think that's a part of the issue. as the media, we have to accept that there have been parts of this country, communities that have not felt represented by the media for a very long time. this is not trusting institutions because institutions have not looked out for them. people of color, black people, black communities have not trusted the media because they feel like they were misrepresented. they felt like their views were not being heard. many have felt like there hasn't been a shared presence of fact and how this country has operated. i think that you have to go beyond the current timeframe and
look at how media has worked in general for many years. >> that breach of trust. facebook created a $2 trillion market cap company. their algorithms take advantage of that lack of trust. i know he could explain to us why these algorithms aren't allowing that to happen and encouraging it to happen. >> we will talk a lot more about social media. i would like to delve a little bit into the media's own responsibilities. you touched on this when you talked about the blurring of the lines between editorial and recording. margaret sullivan in the post wrote that the mainstream media is equalizing the unequal in an
effort to appear unbiased. she said it needs to reframe coverage with a pro-democracy frame. as someone on the front lines, what do you think of that approach? >> it's a very real issue. sometimes, objectivity is deemed to be people that have no stake in issues. this kind of voice of god coming from on high. that is simply not the truth. i'm not talking about taking a position. or saying, this is the way things should be. this is the reality, this person who is in a place of power is not telling the truth. that's not the same -- there's a difference between politicians disagreeing on whether to raise taxes are not and disagreeing over whether the constitution
should work and another president should be installed because we don't like the outcome of the election. i think there are times where the media trying to say, everyone is doing it, when there are different things happening. it's different to say i have questions about the selection verses, i absolutely one and i'm actually still in charge. maybe i'll be president in august. like, that's what is happening in this country. the presidential candidate lost. you can't equalize those things. you can't say that both of those things are the same. >> do you want to weigh in on this point? >> i don't think anybody has done that. i think margaret is right about that in terms of the mainstream media.
i don't think mpr has said that there are two sides to the story of whether president trump lost the election. the press does tend to do that in situations that aren't as clear-cut. i don't think you can make an argument that in terms of the election or the vaccine, the two big hoax issues of the day, that the press is really saying on the one hand, on the other hand. >> why is that on social media, the misinformation spreads faster, further, deeper? >> as a function of the tools that people are given as well as algorithms. it's not just the algorithms. it's also people choosing to share it.
we are in an environment where there are perpetually online factions fighting for the ability to define reality, amplify, bolster their influences and the point of view that they find most believable or favorable. they will sit there and continue to tweet and push the content that aligns with their beliefs. it's much more of a cluster of federated, this book realities. there's a different version of the truth. that's a real challenge. it's not that information is evenly distributed among them. there are different media types and influencers who are treated as authority figures within each of those different bespoke realities. >> what do you think the responsibility is of social
media companies to curb this? are they taking this seriously enough? >> they are. it took them seven years to take it seriously and that's part of the problem. one of the things that social media is responsible for is the structure of those realities. they were pushing people into those groups and recommending those groups for many years. it was fairly well documented that the recommendations were routing people into communities that were not necessarily the kinds of places that most people would consider to be good. >> are there efforts now sufficient? >> the use of the past tense. they are still recommending those websites right now. we did a report a couple days
ago where we demonstrated that if you look at one piece of anti-fax misinformation, they will quickly recommend all kinds of other groups that have the same stuff. with facebook, they have said, 2 billion people have gotten accurate information about the virus and about the vaccine on facebook. that means they have the data. what they haven't said and what i hope he says in the interview that's coming up, is how many people according to their data, how money people have seen anti-fax information. >> aubrey tang, taiwan's digital minister, i interviewer her a couple months ago. she talked about her countries all hands on deck approach to social media. she talked about the government ministries. there are strike teams. when they see disinformation,
they immediately counter it. sometimes, they use humor to do that. they say if the disinformation is out there for more than six hours, it's too late. is that a realistic approach for a country like the united states? >> the answer depends. she's right. the longer something is out there, more people will see it. the more opportunity it has to go viral. that's a component. it's hard to change opinions or bring up something after-the-fact. detecting early is key. one of the things we see, countries in which government responses are effective, there's a high degree of trust in the government. sweden has excellent work that they've done on helping their citizens recognize propaganda, particularly disinformation campaigns. estonia is another place with strong efforts.
taiwan's government does a lot of very proactive work recognizing an information threat targeting their citizens re--- citizenry. the challenge in the u.s. is, who has the moral authority to be the corrector? depending on which segment of the population you live in, you trust very different media. for a long amount of time now, there's been a core dated effort on the start of certain properties to erode confidence in the pro -- possibility of an outside internet -- entity to fact-check. you can't trust. it creates a perception that it's too hard to know who to trust. the only person you can trust is an influencer or media property that is telling you this. one of the key challenges is that it's very hard to tell someone, this information is not
true. this is not the facts. this is exactly the challenge we face. when you trust newsmax and newsmax is telling you something , you see people who won't be receptive to any fact-check of their content. whether that's government media or any other party. >> when you explain to us what news guard does and how you are trying to address the issue? >> we are built on the notion that we don't want the government to tell us what we should read or what you -- we should believe. news guard uses journalists who are trained to read and rate the overall reliability and trustworthiness of what are now
responsible for 97% of all engagement. we use nine specific standards of journalism practice. we publish a nutrition label with the trading and explains in great detail exactly why we raided the website the way we did. we always call the site for comment if we are going to say anything negative about them. we include their comments. more than 900 wide -- websites have changed something about their practice in oyer -- order to get a higher rating. but we depend on is getting people transparent information about the reliability of the source. that results in the ability to pre-bunk a hoax. before january 20, 2020, there were lots of websites that were saying that 5g causes cancer. in january of 2020, guess where they pivoted?
they pivoted to 5g causing covid-19. before they published their first article, they already had a red rating with the expo nation that they are publishing hoaxes about the effects of 5g. we had pre-bunked what they were saying about the virus. that's a process that depends on total transparency, total accountability, and depends on people rate -- reading the ratings and deciding for themselves whether they want to believe it or if they should take it for a grain of salt. if the website has said that 5g causes cancer, maybe they shouldn't believe that they are now saying that 5g causes the virus. >> i want to get to a couple of audience questions. jane shoemaker asks, what is the greatest influence in the social
media and blogging sphere? >> i'm not totally sure i followed. >> to what degree are foreign entities messing with us through social media? >> it is such a small percentage compared to the impact of domestic propaganda at this point. it's a very convenient thing to point to to say, russia doesn't want you to vaccinate your children. that's not driving anti-vaccine and for cash misinformation. for actors participate. they want to exacerbate divisions. in terms of volume and real influence, it's very much a problem of domestic media and hyper-partisan media. >> you are in the field interacting with people. i'm wondering whether you have the impression that people are
interested in getting rid of the disinformation or misinformation . are they so embedded in their own realities that they are just not respective to tools like news guard? >> people do want to get rid of disinformation and misinformation. the problem is that people disagree on what it is. what is misinformation to them? a lot of people feel like they are not spreading misinformation even if it is not based in fact. i believe that the media needs to do a better job of having transparency so people can understand where the media comes from. oftentimes, part of that distrust, people feel like they are sponsored or the government is telling people what to say on cnn. that's not true. there's a feeling that the media is another arm of corporations or the government and is not
telling the truth. so i have to go out and seek the real truth, which is often misinformation. >> i am a most out of time. you came up with the dia of crowdsourcing truth to try to come to some sort of shared reality. can you explain that? >> as people are trying to make sense of evolving, breaking situations, they are looking to social media to find the latest information. as things evolve, we are in a weird time or any corporation with new information is seen as a flip-flop, a backpedal, something bad as opposed to new information coming out and they've changed their mind. that's what a rational environment would expect to happen. is there a better way to assert
this process to help the public see that involving -- evolving consensus? using covid as an example, last year we didn't know how transmission was happening. we went through a series of different research studies that scholars have undergone. that has led to things like the conversation around whether it is airborne, finding opinions from early 2020 are different than opinions in july 2021. is there a way to percent that information? use a wikipedia model. there's a version history and a contributor record so people can see how these different types of arguments and facets of information have developed over time. >> we have to leave this conversation there. thank you all for joining us here today. for our final interview, we
interviewed nick clay of facebook on monday. that interview is coming up in just a moment. thank you so much for joining us today. we did serve together on the transatlantic commission on election integrity. he resigned upon taking his position at facebook. thank you for joining us here today. >> it's great to be with you. >> facebook is a behemoth. 70% of americans logon regularly to the platform. i want to talk today about facebook's obligation to provide accurate and factual information and what the implications are for american democracy. let me start here. who is responsible for the accuracy of the information on facebook? >> we have a shared responsibility. the people who post the content.
social media is different to traditional publications in the sense that mark zuckerberg is not like a newspaper editor. that's a great disruptive thing about social media. people using new technologies to express themselves. we all have a responsibility. people are posting content. what we can do it facebook is remove and block things that would lead to direct harm. in terms of trying to connect people to useful information so they get reliable information about what's going on in an election campaign, we create resources. we created a voter information center, directed 140 million
people to it. that was election day alone. that helped over 4.5 million americans to vote who otherwise wouldn't have registered. we have 80 fact checkers in over 60 languages around the world. they can independently label things as missing context or probably false. here's the big but. at the end of the day, the right to talk gibberish, the right to talk nonsense is a fundamental right. i don't think anyone would want facebook to be an absolute truth police and only allow people to say whatever pops into their brain if it is first vetted for factual accuracy. that's not the territory anybody should want facebook to go in. we can do a lot beside that. we can block stuff that is harmful. we can point people to quality information.
we can fact-check so people can have that available to them. it's a difficult balance to strike. >> vaccine disinformation is running rampant across the internet. there have been some who have suggested that section 230, which has shielded platforms like yourself from any liability for posting inaccurate and wild content, should be reformed in some way. what is your reaction to that? >> i think it should be reformed. it's 25 years old. it's not surprising that it is starting to show its age. >> what should the next -- next section 230 look like? >> in facebook, it should say the following. big platforms like youtube and facebook and twitter, you have to show us, the american people,
show us that you have proper systems to coherently monitor on your platform, to act in the standards which you have, you have to do that transparently and accountable he. if you don't do that properly, the immunity from content liability could be taken away. to make that immunity conditional of having the standards and processes and systems in place to properly moderate content on our platforms. that would strike the right balance without getting into peerless territory, having legislatures deciding what kind of content they would
individually like. >> that's a long-term strategy. president biden has said that facebook is killing people because of vaccine information. what are you going to do? >> i think he said, he clarified his remarks. i've had meetings with members of the administration. we have ongoing meetings with the administration. we do with governments around the world to explain what we do, to ensure that people that use our services have access to information about covid. over 2 billion people around the world have used this. facebook alone has removed around 86 million pieces of covid misinformation. >> how big of a universe of misinformation? >> you can measure the outcome. we have surveys which we do with
universities like the carnegie mellon university, the largest survey of its kind anywhere in the world. millions of people have replied, explaining what they think about covid information online. since january, there's been a 50% decline in vaccine hesitancy amongst millions of americans who use facebook. around 85% of american facebook users except and believe in the vaccine. we are seeing measurable steps in the right direction. we have labeled around 167 million pieces of covid content because we think, fact checkers think that they are inaccurate. we can always try to do more. we must always try to do more. we can't eliminate people's right in a free society to express reservations about how the pandemic has been conducted. scientific consensus changes. facebook used to remove claims that covid was human made.
then the scientific consensus shifted and said, maybe it is. we have to ship with that. it's not a static line. we constantly consult with scientists to try to draw the line in the right way. >> i don't think it's possible to draw a clear connection between what people are reading on facebook and their vaccine hesitancy. beyond that, there are critics who say that you are doing this in a piecemeal fashion. that you still haven't found a systematic way to stop this information, whether it's about vaccines or politics or something else. >> i accept that there will always have a contested place. one person's offensive speech is another person's right to free expression. we are an american company based with ml your can -- american values. the united states doesn't
believe everything goes. we do remove millions of pieces of content which we think would lead to real-world harm. we give people real latitude to express their opinions even if those opinions are not always completely accurate or even if they might cause stress to others. we can't claim that the internet -- there is such a vigorous and polarized debate about what speech is and is not allowed. we are trying to serve the whole country. at the moment, the united states left says that you have to take down mark content. the right says we take down too much. i don't think they will ever agree on this. in the meantime, we try to do the right thing and be transparent and consistent. we set out these rules for everybody to be able to look at
and examine these selves. >> you deplatforms the former president. did you go to for -- too far? >> we acted in accordance with what an independent body told us was in our right to do. the oversight board, no other tech companies established this. highly authoritative people from around the world, from the right, from the left. they looked at it and said, the gravity of what happened at the time of the insurrection on the capital on january 6, the content that then president trump issued in a way which clearly frightened people who were involved in the violence and disruption on that day, they saw that was such a great gravity that we were in our rights to say that he no longer have the right to post content on facebook. other platforms have removed him permanently.
we've said, no. we are not imposing a permanent ban. we think it's a proportionate time bound suspension of two years. we believe that's in line with the guidance that was given by an independent oversight board. >> i'm curious as to what effect it has had. have you seen a reduction in the flow of political disinformation since he has been deplatformed? have you seen a decline in the number of facebook users? >> what we have generally seen, we are no longer in the throes of an election cycle, the sheer intensity of the fury that we saw up to the november election last year. and then continuing right through the elections in particular states. and then the events in early january. there's been a reduction in the temperature generally.
political interest has waned. >> he it has been deplatformed. >> maybe. i remember this from my own 20 years in politics. politics goes in cycles. there will be another peak in the mature elections next year. i can share this with you. we did get very clear and loud feedback from users, not just in the u.s., but around the world. during the latter months of last year. and has continued since then. many facebook users don't like to have that much political content in their newsfeed. one of the things that is misunderstood, there's an assumption amongst coastal obliques -- elites, social media is completely full of political content. in fact, civic contact --
content constitutes 6% of the total content on facebook. most of it is babies, bar mitzvahs, barbecues, innocent and playful stuff. small businesses trying to make a living. many users, that's why they cherish social media. not for people to start shouting to each other about politics. that's a clear signal that we've heard from users. we should be responsive to that message from our users. >> i'm curious about a couple of things. there are people who study the issue of disinformation who say that facebook itself hasn't studied it closely enough. that you don't exactly how it is that it spreads so far and so fast. valid criticism? >> more research can always be done. in valid criticism in the sense that we are not being active on this front.
only a reasonable person would say, facebook hasn't unprecedented cooperation with more than a dozen authorities looking into how facebook was used by voters in the run-up to the u.s. elections. we've provided them with unprecedented faith that has never been shared with researchers before. they hope to publish the fruits of their research independently from facebook early in the first half of next year. there's more to learn. there's always more research to be done. independent research has been done between social media and polarization. it shows different conclusions what you might think. stanford looked in-depth at trends in nine countries over 40 years and found in many countries, polarization has been decreasing while the use of facebook has been increasing.
the idea that there was always a link between social media and polarization is not true. some other studies have shown in the united states, polarization has increased the most amongst the demographic groups that are least likely to use the internet. >> you said you share data and research says you haven't shared enough. they want to know more about your algorithms and how this whole ecosystem of social media works. will you open more information up for an independent audit that will explore how you work? >> we've gone further than that already. we've already committed to providing unprecedented access, independent research. everybody always wants more and we will always seek to do more. we've already said it's algorithmically right.
not only will it explain more about the signals that we use -- there are multiple, multiple signals from the device, from the time of day, from the stuff you share. we will provide more and more of that information and go even further than that. we recently given users to override the algorithm altogether, literally. say, i don't want facebook to algorithmically rank what i see first on my newsfeed. i want to, in effect, cure it myself. >> some people are perfectly happy within their bubble. polarization, you blame them, independent of facebook? >> yes, but again, independence have shown oddly enough, because most people on facebook have a range of trends who stretch from childhood friends to work colleagues, to people they played sports with. you tended to have a more mixed
ideological composition of your friends on facebook then you do if you read the same part of the newspaper or watch the same cable tv news outlet. so, social media is not this narrow. this is what independent researchers have proven, but is often asserted. >> nick, some people say you are really not interested and you're ending the controversy and the very inflammatory content because it makes you money. so what's the greater interest for facebook? is it money or is it democracy? >> i flatly and vigorously reject this idea that facebook has to spoonfeed people addictive, extreme, violent, hateful content. why on earth would we want to do that? if we were to do that, people would not continue to use facebook in five years time, 10
years time, 15 years time. we know from our own research if you want people to use facebook for long-term, which we have a business interest in doing, something addicted to using facebook for 20 extra minutes, you wanted to be a wholesome dish want it to be -- you want it to be a wholesome, meaningful one. we recently published verifiable data that shows the prevalent hate speech is now as low as 0.0 5 percent. every 10,000 bits of content, you might see five bits of hate speech. i wish it were zero. unfortunately, there are always human beings who want to issue this bile and hateful speech. we catch the vast majority before anybody reported to us. i don't think we can change human nature. but the idea we have an incentive to prioritize this is one of the most misleading
allegations of the numerous critics that social media has. >> at this point, we have to leave it there. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> and that concludes our episode on disinformation and democracy. thanks to all of you for joining us and for weighing in with your opinion. our next episode on election security is coming up on september 30. it is free and you can register at reimaginingdemocracy. org. in the meantime, please continue the conversation on social media. we'll see you next time. >> the senate will be in tomorrow for a week in session as the text of a bipartisan infrastructure deal is being finalized. role-playing -- role -- -- is possible. watch on c-span, live at
c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> dippy press secretary answered questions -- deputy press secretary answered questions on mandates and convicting information on the white house and the cdc regarding the delta variant. she also addressed the united states policy towards cuba, the eviction moratorium, and voting rights. this is about 45 minutes.