House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Facebook's refusal to take down a video that was to make her sound drunk showed that the company's leaders were "willing enablers" of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
"We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians. I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it's wrong," Pelosi, a Democrat from California, told KQED News in her first public remarks about the doctored video. "I can take it ... but (Facebook is) lying to the public."
"I think they have proven -- by not taking down something they know is false -- that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election," she added.
Pelosi's remarks show how tensions between Facebook and lawmakers continue to escalate as the social media giant struggles to combat misinformation on its platform while trying to balance safety with free speech. Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
YouTube took down the video, but Facebook and Twitter left it up. Facebook doesn't have a rule that requires content posted on the site to be true. Its "community standards" state it doesn't remove fake news on the social network but will show it lower in the News Feed. The company has also taken down fake for "inauthentic behavior," which means the people behind the accounts tried to mislead users about who they were and what they were doing.
One version of the doctored Pelosi video shared on a Facebook Page garnered 2.8 million views and more than 48,400 people shared it. If you try to share the video, Facebook directs you to fact-checkers that published articles about how the video footage was distorted. It doesn't identify the video as having been manipulated.
Other lawmakers are calling on Facebook to pull down the video. On Tuesday, Rep. Ro Khanna, also a California democrat, tweeted that he talked to an informed voter who didn't know the videos of Pelosi were altered, and that Facebook must remove it.
Last week in an interview with CNN, Facebook's vice president for product policy and counterterrorism, Monika Bickert, defended the social network's decision to leave up the video.
"We think it's important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe," Bickert said. "Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information."
Originally published May 29
Update, May 30: Adds a screenshot.