She’s the youngest woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, a multiple viral sensation and genuine champion of social justice.
However, most recently, she has resumed the role of social information watchdog as the US Representative for New York's 14th congressional district directed questions at one Mark Zuckerberg about congressional ads on Facebook, fake or otherwise.
On Wednesday, the Facebook founder appeared in a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee that was due to be about Facebook’s Libra crypto project but wound up being about a number of other past issues linked to the social Goliath.
Members of Congress grilled the executive on the litany of controversies and questions the social media giant is facing, including hate speech, data privacy, diversity, content moderation, and more.
Top of mind for some in Congress — not to mention the public — is Facebook’s policy that allows politicians to lie in their political ads.
And Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term Democrat from New York, drilled down on the matter.
“You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
"So, you won't take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that's just a pretty simple yes or no."October 23, 2019
She continued to ask whether she could pay to target predominantly black zip codes and advertise the wrong election date, to which Zuckerberg replied that such an ad would be barred.
“If anyone, including a politician, is saying things that can cause... that is calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm, or voter or census suppression, when we roll out the census suppression policy, we will take that content down,” he said.
“So there is some threshold where you will fact-check political advertisements. Is that what you’re telling me?” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Zuckerberg said whether a post is taken down “depends on context.”
Ocasio-Cortez then asked Zuckerberg about his “dinner parties with far-right figures” (including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro, and the conservative CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham) and asks if at those meetings he addressed the popular rightwing theory that Facebook cracks down on conservative speech. Zuckerberg did not answer.
Last week, Zuckerberg delivered a speech at Georgetown University that attempted to defend the company and his worldview on speech.
“While I certainly worry about an erosion of truth, I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judged to be 100 per cent true,” he said.
“Banning political ads favours incumbents and whoever the media chooses to cover.”