Klobuchar calls Trump 'the ultimate conveyor of misinformation,’ says Facebook ban not far enough

The Facebook (FB) oversight board’s decision to uphold an indefinite ban on former President Trump’s account renewed calls for antitrust action against the social media giant Wednesday. But one lawmaker spearheading the charge to reshape the country’s antitrust law says Trump should be banned permanently.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D, MN) said Trump’s refusal to admit defeat in the 2020 presidential election, and continued lies about election fraud are reason enough to ban him from social media platforms, altogether.

“He is the ultimate conveyor of misinformation, he's a disinformer in chief. He is the one that basically still will not admit that he lost the election and keeps putting out theories that literally undermine our democracy itself,” Klobuchar said. “It’s not like he’s changed his tune in terms of undermining democracy.”

Klobuchar’s criticism isn’t limited to Trump. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, she has frequently spoken out against what she sees as the unchecked power and influence of Facebook and other big tech firms. She said the oversight board’s ruling to punt the ultimate decision back to the social media giant was yet another sign of the company’s outsized reach.

“When you have monopolies, they have less of an incentive to develop the bells and whistles to protect people's privacy, and to do something about misinformation, due to public pressure. They are doing this now when it comes to vaccine misinformation and the like,” she said.

Facebook established the oversight board in 2018, in response to heavy criticism about political bias in moderating content on its platforms. The 20-member panel made up of former political leaders, journalists, and human rights activists was appointed by Facebook and tasked with deliberating the company’s content decisions. While the company has maintained the board’s independence, it is funded by a $130 million trust from Facebook, and critics argue its decisions hold little weight, given that the panel can only offer recommendations on policies.

Anti-monopoly law

Klobuchar has called for a complete overhaul of current antitrust enforcement. Earlier this year, she introduced the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, which proposes to change existing law by requiring government agencies to regularly examine merger effects, and calling for the standard for enforcement to be reset. It also shifts the burden of proof on dominant firms in merger cases to prove that the acquisition won’t hurt competition, and arms antitrust enforcers with additional policing tools.

“You make it easier for [regulatory] agencies to look at those mergers and prove out that there's a problem with competition. But [the proposed bill] also says, as we did with the AT&T (T) breakup, why don't you make it easier to look backwards and look for that exclusionary conduct,” she said.

Klobuchar explores the evolution of U.S. anti-monopoly law in her new book “ANTITRUST: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age.” She condemns corporate consolidation and argues that monopolies have consistently hurt American consumers and the economy throughout history, from Standard Oil to Big Pharma.

“Through history, our capitalist system, which I strongly support…has rejuvenated itself with checks and balances from antitrust. That was a breakup of Standard Oil that was the breakup of AT&T,” she said. “If you look at this from a pure capitalist standpoint you come out in favor of allowing competition and allowing our economy to thrive but not having big monopoly gateways in so many different areas.”

Akiko Fujita is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita

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