Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Social Network Writer Aaron Sorkin Argue Publicly

"That's not defending free speech, Mark, that's assaulting truth," Sorkin wrote.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Social Network Writer Aaron Sorkin Argue Publicly

Facebook CEO has responded to Aaron Sorkin through a post featuring a monologue from the 1995 film

Highlights
  • Film writer Aaron Sorkin accused Mark Zuckerberg of "assaulting truth"
  • Sorkin said in the open letter Zuckerberg didn't like The Social Network
  • Zuckerberg and Facebook have recently faced intense political scrutiny

"You want free speech?" Mark Zuckerberg posted to Facebook on Thursday.

But it wasn't one of his many recent speeches and testimony on the importance of freedom of expression. Instead, the Facebook CEO was responding to Aaron Sorkin using his own words from the movie "The American President." That was after the film and TV writer penned a critical opinion article on Facebook's political ad policies in The New York Times.

Sorkin, who was also the writer behind the Zuckerberg-centered film The Social Network, accused the CEO of "assaulting truth" and hiding behind the guise of protecting free speech by refusing to remove false political advertisements.

"Right now, on your website, is an ad claiming that Joe Biden gave the Ukrainian attorney general a billion dollars not to investigate his son," wrote Sorkin. "Every square inch of that is a lie and it's under your logo. That's not defending free speech, Mark, that's assaulting truth."

Zuckerberg and Facebook have recently faced intense political scrutiny for the company's controversial policy declining to fact-check ads from politicians, something that essentially allows falsehoods. It has riled Democratic presidential candidates, who have asked for the social media network to remove an ad purchased by President Donald Trump's presidential campaign that they say is false.

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. bought a Facebook ad earlier this month in which she joked that the company had endorsed Trump, adding that its policies allow "a candidate to intentionally lie to the American people."

Sorkin's entry into the debate marks one of Hollywood's first broadsides against Facebook on this issue.

In response to Sorkin's opinion article, Zuckerberg on Thursday posted the text to a monologue from the 1995 film, citing Sorkin and without additional comment.

"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight," Zuckerberg quoted.

It was a rare move for the chief executive, who has typically refrained from responding to critics on his own platform. Still, he appears to be growing more aggressive when it comes to standing up to the criticism.

That includes earlier this month, when Politico published a story about Zuckerberg meeting with conservative politicians and media. "Meeting new people and hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "If you haven't tried it, I suggest you do!"

During an earnings call Wednesday, Zuckerberg again stood by Facebook's political ads policy, an hour after rival Twitter said it would ban political ads.

"In a democracy, I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians or the news," he said on the call.

Facebook referred to Zuckerberg's post in response to a request for comment. Attempts to reach Sorkin were not immediately successful.

Sorkin said in the open letter that Zuckerberg didn't like "The Social Network" and called it inaccurate.

"I didn't push back on your public accusation that the movie was a lie because I'd had my say in the theaters, but you and I both know that the screenplay was vetted to within an inch of its life by a team of studio lawyers with one client and one goal: Don't get sued by Mark Zuckerberg," he wrote.

© The Washington Post 2019

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