During a recent interview with Joe Rogan, Mark Zuckerberg provided details into how Facebook chose to handle the Hunter Biden laptop story that broke just weeks before the 2020 presidential election. And the insight he provides makes Glenn and Stu wonder: Was it really the FBI behind the story’s censorship, rather than Big Tech? We’ll likely never know what REALLY happened behind the scenes, but the idea of the FBI censoring news seems even scarier than Big Tech. In this clip, Glenn and Stu explain why...
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Could we please play cut one of Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with Joe Rogan. Listen to this.
VOICE: How do you handle things when they're a big news item, that's controversial. Like there was a lot of attention on Twitter during the election because of the Hunter Biden laptop story. The New York Post -- yeah. So you guys censored that as well?
VOICE: So we took a different path than Twitter. I mean, basically, the background is that the FBI basically came to us, some folks on our team. And said, hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought 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 of -- of -- of -- that's similar to that. So just be vigilant.
So our protocol is different from Twitter. What Twitter did is they said, you can't share this at all. We didn't do that.
What we do, is we have -- if something is reported to us, as potentially misinformation, and important misinformation. We also have this third party fact-checking party, because we don't want to be deciding what's true and false. And I think for five or seven days, when it was basically being determined, whether it was false, the distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were allowed to share. So you could still share it. You could still consume it.
VOICE: When you say the distribution is decreased. How does that work?
VOICE: It basically -- the ranking in news feed was a little bit less. So fewer people saw it, than would otherwise. So it definitely --
VOICE: By what percentage?
VOICE: I don't know off the top of my head. But it's meaningful. But basically, a lot of people were still able to share it. We got a lot of complaints, that that was the case. You know, obviously, this was a hyper political issue. So depending on what side of the political spectrum, you either think we didn't censor it enough, or censored it way too much. But we weren't sort of as black and white about it, as Twitter. We kind of thought, hey, look, if the FBI, which I still view as a legitimate institution, in this country. A very professional law enforcement. They come to us, and tell us, that we need to be on guard about something. And I want to take that seriously.
VOICE: Right. Did they specifically tell you, not to be on guard about that story?
VOICE: No. I don't remember it being that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern.
STU: It was interesting. I listened to a good chunk of this interview last night because I wanted to get the context. I've seen this clip all over the place.
GLENN: Sure. Sure.
STU: First of all, it's interesting. Because you forget about the pressure they're getting from the other side too. A lot of times, we talk about how we're all annoyed at Facebook and Twitter, and all these places. The other side is putting more pressure on them, about making sure they do censor this stuff. And he went through that in a pretty interesting way.
GLENN: It's interesting when you listen to him, isn't it?
GLENN: Because that's what he said to me, when I was at the table. He said, again, the pressure is just as heavy on the other side. I don't want to get involved in any of it.
STU: And he really gets into that. He basically says, I don't want any responsibility for this whatsoever, is essentially his point.
Now, whether you believe him on that is another story. It was interesting to hear the lead-up to this. Because Joe Rogan -- I think five or six questions -- 20 minutes before this question happened, he was leading to this question.
It really seemed like --
GLENN: Of course he was.
STU: You could tell, he wanted to get something on this --
GLENN: He turned out to be a good interviewer. He's really good.
STU: Yeah. And the other thing, I think you get -- because it doesn't specifically say. He sort of avoids that part of it. Where he says, I don't understand why it started. You could understand him saying, there could be Russian influence. And we understand that stuff goes on. Hey, be vigilant. And we thought there was a part of this. He's not saying necessarily -- the FBI came to him and said, you have to stop this Hunter Biden story, but he doesn't deny it either.
GLENN: Yeah. And it fits.
He said, at worst. Or, I mean, at best, he said, it fits the parameters of the story, they were worried about. You know what I mean?
STU: Right. Yes.
GLENN: And remember, the FBI had that story, a year before.
GLENN: And they had already -- we found out yesterday, they had already told their FBI agents, do not look into it.
GLENN: I mean, we're really blessed to have that computer guy, save a copy, and give copies out. Or that thing would have been gone. We would have never heard of it.
STU: And I think here, if you're looking at this with a critical eye, I think you were more concerned about the FBI, than you are Facebook here. Which is interesting.
I think we've been talking about the big tech platforms. Which they're guilty of a million things. I'm not letting them off here. But at least the way this story is told. My suspicion is much more about the FBI, and what they were telling Facebook. Rather than Facebook, coming in, and trying to make these decisions on his own.
Everybody talks about him as android. He actually talks about him, as relatively normal in this interview.
GLENN: Uh-huh. You should sit in the same room as him, he's either an accomplished sociopathic liar. Or he doesn't really have control of his can. And I'm not sure which it is. I mean, he might be a sociopath. But he is -- you listen to him, he's very logical.
GLENN: He's very heartfelt. You know, he'll look you in the eye, and say these things. And say, okay. Well, he does have a point on that, you know what I mean?
STU: Yeah. And I think there's a level of this, where these guys want to make a bunch of money.
They have some sort of idea, of where they want the world to be, surely. But they also want to make a bunch of money, and they don't want to be in constant political controversies. And they would love for someone to take all of this off their table. Like, they would love to not be able -- like, to not have to worry about it. This is why they do the fact-checker thing. Right? He even says this in the interview. We do the fact-checkers. Who is looking at the fact-checkers?
GLENN: Yeah. I mean, the fact-checkers are flawed.
STU: Like Rogan asked us. How can we tell if the fact-checkers are biased? His basic point was -- he didn't say this exactly. But his basic point was, I don't really care. I just don't want to have to make the decisions. I don't want us to be responsible for it.
GLENN: Well, you are, when you don't know who the fact-checkers are.
STU: The same thing with the algorithms, right? You can say the algorithm is making a good choice, but human beings have an impact on that. The bottom line is, what he wants is no responsibility.
Which unfortunately, for him, is not -- that's not how this is going to work out. That means, people are going to come to him, on both sides, and say, you need to take responsibility for your platform.