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Aaron Sorkin says Mark Zuckerberg is 'assaulting truth' with Facebook ad policy

In an open letter in The New York Times, the screenwriter says Facebook should be a reliable source of public information.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress.
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Playwright and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is taking issue with Facebook's policies on political ads -- specifically, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's defense that his company shouldn't fact-check the claims politicians make. Sorkin, who's been behind shows dealing in the worlds of news and politics like The West Wing and The Newsroom, wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film The Social Network, telling the story of Facebook's early days.

In an open letter in The New York Times, published Thursday, Sorkin cited an ad from the Trump campaign targeting Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden:

"Every square inch of that is a lie and it's under your logo," Sorkin wrote. "That's not defending free speech, Mark, that's assaulting truth."

He also pointed to Zuckerberg's own protests over The Social Network and how it portrayed him. 

"You and I want speech protections to make sure no one gets imprisoned or killed for saying or writing something unpopular, not to ensure that lies have unfettered access to the American electorate," Sorkin said.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Zuckerberg did post on Facebook a quote from the 1995 movie The American President, which Sorkin wrote. Part of the quote reads: "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." 

The letter comes a week after Zuckerberg testified before Congress and answered questions on the issue of when the social network would or would not pull misleading political ads.

Originally published Oct. 31, 9:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:04 p.m.: Adds Facebook post from Mark Zuckerberg.

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