Aaron Sorkin won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for scripting David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” a scathing behind-the-scenes look at Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook. Nine years later, Sorkin has taken to The New York Times to publish an open letter slamming Zuckerburg and Facebook for allowing political candidates to post false ads. Zuckerberg has long cited the first amendment when criticized for his decision. Sorkin writes that “Facebook isn’t defending free speech, it’s assaulting truth.” The letter was published just a day after Twitter announced it would be banning political adverts from its platform.
“I admire your deep belief in free speech,” Sorkin writes. “I get a lot of use out of the First Amendment. Most important, it’s a bedrock of our democracy and it needs to be kept strong. But this can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together. Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives.”
Sorkin references a political advertisement running on Facebook now that claims Joe Biden gave the Ukrainian attorney general a billion dollars not to investigate his son. “Every square inch of that is a lie and it’s under your logo,” Sorkin writes. “That’s not defending free speech, Mark, that’s assaulting truth.”
The letter also references a private screening of “The Social Network” that was put on for Sheryl Sandberg, who is now Facebook’s chief operating officer. According to Sorkin, Sandberg stood up in the middle of the screening and pushed back at the producers in the room for being hard on Zuckerberg. Sandberg allegedly said, “How can you do this to a kid?”
Sorkin continues, “I hope your C.O.O. walks into your office, leans in (as she suggested we do in her best selling book), and says, ‘How can we do this to tens of millions of kids? Are we really going to run an ad that claims Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick?”
The letter ends with Sorkin bringing up Zuckerberg’s conversation with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while testifying before a congressional committee earlier this month. Ocasio-Cortez asked the Facebook creator if he saw a problem with Facebook’s complete lack of fact-checking when it comes to political ads. Zuckerberg responded, “Congresswoman, in most cases, in a democracy, I believe people should be able to see for themselves what politicians they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves.”
Sorkin concludes: “Now you tell me. If I’d known you felt that way, I’d have had the Winklevoss twins invent Facebook.” Head over to The New York Time’s website to read Sorkin’s open letter in its entirety.