Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, claimed that the FBI approached Facebook with a warning about “Russian propaganda” before the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
On Thursday’s episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook’s censorship of the New York Post’s reporting on the son of then-candidate Joe Biden‘s dubious overseas business transactions.
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Zuckerberg began by emphasising how Facebook followed a “different path” than Twitter, which blocked The New York Post’s coverage while Facebook limited its reach on the site.
“Basically, the background here is the FBI, I think, basically came to us- some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert… We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that, basically, there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant,'” Zuckerberg revealed to host Joe Rogan.
Zuckerberg asserted that Facebook users were “allowed to share” the Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop while their “third-party fact-checking program” investigated whether it was false, but admitted that the “ranking in [the] news feed was a little bit less” and that “fewer people saw it than would’ve otherwise.”
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“By what percentage?” Rogan inquired.
Zuckerberg responded with, “I don’t know off the top of my head, but it’s- it’s meaningful. But we weren’t sort of as black and white about it as Twitter. We just kind of thought hey look, if the FBI, which I still view is a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement- they come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something then I want to take that seriously.”
“Did they specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?” Rogan followed up.
“No, I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern,” Zuckerberg said.
When asked if there was any “regret” burrying a story that turned out to be true Zuckerberg responded, “Yeah, yeah. I mean, it sucks.”
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However, he went on to defend Facebook’s procedures, telling Rogan that its process was “pretty reasonable” because his platform still enabled the New York Post articles to be distributed, as opposed to Twitter’s complete ban.
“It’s probably also the case of armchair quarterbacking, right? Or at least Monday morning quarterbacking… because in the moment, you had reason to believe based on the FBI talking to you that it wasn’t real and that there was going to be some propaganda. So what do you do?” Rogan explained. “And then, if you just let it get out there and what if it changes the election and it turns out to be bulls—, that’s a real problem. And I would imagine that those kinds of decisions are the most difficult.”
Both Zuckerberg and then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed regret for limiting the spread of the New York Post’s findings, and several news organisations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, and Politico, have since confirmed the laptop’s validity.
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Senator Ron Johnson revealed this week in a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz that whistleblowers claim FBI officials urged agents not to probe Hunter Biden’s laptop for months because they were concerned it might affect the 2020 race.
According to Johnson, “individuals with knowledge” of the Hunter Biden case informed his office that the probe had been deliberately postponed on orders from “local FBI leadership.”
Other whistleblower charges, according to Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley, suggest a “deeply rooted political infection” within the FBI.