Tech

Warren attacks Facebook for 'quietly' changing its political ad policy after Zuckerberg's meeting with Trump

Key Points
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., attacks Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the company's "influence" over U.S. elections in a series of tweets Monday.
  • The tweets come one week after a leaked recording showed Zuckerberg calling Warren's election an "existential" threat to the business.
  • Warren's plan to break up Big Tech has helped position the fate of companies such as Facebook as a key issue of the 2020 election.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate (L), and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
Bridgett Bennet | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took aim at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a series of tweets on Monday night. The attack came one week after the release of a recording where Zuckerberg is heard telling employees that a Warren administration would represent an "existential" threat to the company.

In Monday's tweets, Warren drew a line from Zuckerberg's meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., last week to Facebook's policy change regarding political ads. On Sept. 24, Facebook announced it would not fact check or remove content by politicians even if it violates the company's rules. Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg wrote, "it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak," in a blog post announcing the new policy. Clegg said they would make exceptions only if a politician's speech endangers people or is a paid ad that violates its rules.

"The public deserves to know how Facebook intends to use their influence in this election," Warren wrote in the first of a string of tweets Monday. "For instance, Trump and Zuckerberg met at the White House two weeks ago. What did they talk about?" she wrote in a later tweet.

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Warren said that following the meeting, "Facebook quietly changed its policies on 'misinformation' in ads, allowing politicians to run ads that have already been debunked by independent, non-partisan fact-checkers. Put another way, Facebook is now okay with running political ads with known lies."

Warren accused Facebook of letting Trump spend $1 million in a week on political ads amid a House impeachment inquiry, some with "the same lies TV stations won't [accept]."

Facebook declined to comment.

The offensive approach signals that the Warren campaign sees opportunity in touting Zuckerberg's fear of her election. When Warren released her plan to break up Big Tech in March, it quickly made the fate of companies such as Facebook a key issue of the 2020 election. Zuckerberg's comments, which had been made in an internal staff meeting in July and later leaked to The Verge, indicate he understands antitrust action is a distinct possibility.

It may not take a Warren administration for such action to occur. Facebook already faces an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission and multiple state attorneys general. The Department of Justice has also announced a broad antitrust review of Big Tech companies, excluding company names but pointing to social media as an area of concern.

-CNBC's Salvador Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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