Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defends himself against Twitter's Jack Dorsey, saying political ad decision is not all about money

Key Points
  • Twitter said it was banning political ads on its platform right as Facebook was set to report earnings. 
  • On Facebook's earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's policy. 
  • "The controversy this creates far outweighs the very small percentage of our business that these political ads make up," Zuckerberg said. 
A monitor displays a "Zuck Buck" as Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Right as Facebook was set to report its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his company would be banning political advertisements.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't take the bait. On the company's earnings call, he defended Facebook's decision to allow ads that contain false information.

"Some people accuse us of allowing speech because they think all we care about is making money, and that's wrong," Zuckerberg said on the earnings call. "I can assure you that from a business perspective, the controversy this creates far outweighs the very small percentage of our business that these political ads make up."

Facebook's approach came under intense scrutiny this month after the company said it would allow Trump's re-election campaign to run an ad with false claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The ads policy was a major point of discussion at a congressional hearing last week where Zuckerberg testified.

On the call, Zuckerberg said the company estimates ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of its revenue next year.

"To put this in perspective, the FTC fine that these same critics said wouldn't be enough to change our incentives was more than 10x bigger than this," he said.

Zuckerberg also argued that Google, YouTube, some cable networks and national broadcasters run "these same ads." Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I think there are good reasons for this," he said. "I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians and the news."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had already anticipated and poked fun at this argument, tweeting, "For instance, it's not credible for us to say: 'We're working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well...they can say whatever they want!'"

Twitter will no longer take political ads: Jack Dorsey tweets