advertisement
advertisement

Social media companies grapple with how to handle MyPillow guy Mike Lindell’s ‘documentary’

Major platforms rushed to remove or reduce the reach of a new movie that spreads false conspiracies about the 2020 election.

Social media companies grapple with how to handle MyPillow guy Mike Lindell’s ‘documentary’
[Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images]

How’s this for cushioning the blow?

advertisement
advertisement

Not long after MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell released an infomercial-style movie in which he and a cadre of election truthers hurl false claims about the 2020 presidential race, the movie began to pop up on major social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. Such sites have rules that restrict or prohibit the spreading of election-related misinformation, and the pro-Trump Lindell has already been permanently banned from Twitter for spreading debunked claims about election fraud.

The movie, “Absolute Proof,” was uploaded to YouTube several times by early afternoon on Friday, but the Google-owned video site said it has been just as quickly taking it down. “Per our presidential election integrity policy, we remove content uploaded after the safe harbor deadline that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election,” a spokesperson told Fast Company. “We removed this video and its reuploads in accordance with this policy.”

Facebook did not go quite as far. Reached for comment, a spokesperson said, “This video has been rated false by one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers so it’s been labeled and its distribution is being reduced.”

advertisement
advertisement

The differing responses underscore a tricky balance that major platforms must continue to strike as they weigh the tradeoffs between labeling or outright banning misinformation and deplatforming the people who spread it. Lindell, whose company is facing boycotts, has been quick to brand himself as a truth-telling martyr who is being “silenced” by corporate media and Big Tech. “What you’re about to see today is what they don’t want you to see, why they’re trying to erase me,” he says in the opening of the movie.

However, experts caution that the solutions to disinformation are complex, and recent crackdowns have sent users flocking to alternative platforms and media sources that are all too happy to indulge them.

Lindell’s movie is airing as a paid program on OAN, but even that notoriously Trump-friendly network took pains to distance itself with a 90-second disclaimer, saying, “This program is not the product of OAN’s reporting.”

advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

More