A television ad attacking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his company’s handling of hate and misinformation will air during Wednesday’s vice presidential debate coverage, the group behind the ad — Accountable Tech — tells CNN Business.
The ad includes footage of Zuckerberg telling Congress that Facebook has a responsibility to be a positive force in the world and that as founder he has ultimate responsibility for it.
It then shows media headlines about Facebook’s (FB) recent high-profile failures, including its failure to remove the page of a militia in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and its struggle to get a handle on Qanon, a conspiracy theory that the FBI has labeled as a potential domestic terrorist threat.
“Our democracy is on the line. Hold Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg accountable,” a message at the end of the ad reads.
“This VP debate will draw the nation’s attention to the precarious state of our democracy, from the erosion of truth to the extreme tribalism. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have turbocharged all of that, and they need to be held accountable,” Nicole Gill, the executive director and a co-founder of Accountable Tech, told CNN Business.
Jesse Lehrich, the group’s other co-founder, said that it had purchased a six-figure ad buy across cable, streaming services, and digital.
The ad buy includes spots during CNN’s debate coverage on cable and during Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends” on streaming services, he said.
Accountable Tech has not disclosed its funders and did not do so when CNN Business asked. As a 501(c)(4) group it is not obliged to make that information public.
Facebook has found itself at the center this year’s elections campaign, being attacked by both Republicans and Democrats.
Jen O’Malley Dillion, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign manager, wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg last week that his company’s refusal to remove voter misinformation shared by President Donald Trump amounted to the company becoming the “nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process.”
On Tuesday, soon after Facebook removed a post from Trump that claimed falsely that the flu is more lethal than Covid-19, Trump posted on Facebook and Twitter, “REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”
Section 230 is shorthand for the part of US law that gives tech companies immunity for almost all of their decisions regarding content moderation.