I’ve written about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg more times today than I typically would like to in a week, but I find his current predicament with the left fascinating.
Just to recap, Zuckerberg is currently fending off Democrats who are apparently tired of trying to nail down Trump with unprovable crimes and are now trying to punish the people they believe are at fault for his victory. For Zuck, it’s the fact that Facebook allowed political ads on his platform that Democrats didn’t like.
While a lot of the political ads, memes, or commentary that passes through Facebook is likely misinformed or inaccurate — there’s bound to be one or two whopping lies or misleading statements in any “Now This” post — the fact is that Facebook is a platform, not a publisher. Zuck and his social media goliath can’t be held responsible for the things users of his platform post thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
This means that if you want to post a meme or political video that says “Joe Biden eats babies,” Facebook can’t be held responsible and be sued for libel or slander.
Democrats hate this right now — emphasis on “right now” — because they believe Hillary Clinton lost due to people spreading political ads that contained inaccurate information about her.
It wasn’t that. If anyone wants to point to the reason Clinton lost, they should aim their fingers straight at Clinton, but I digress.
As such, Democrats have put Zuck in their crosshairs and continue to dog him with bad press and asinine questions, such as whether or not he knows the identity politics of the people he works with.
The goal for Democrats is to turn Zuck’s social media empire from a platform to a publisher, which would essentially put the onus on Facebook for any misleading information that travels through its site. There would be lawsuits galore, and I don’t trust the left to be fair to Facebook when it comes to these lawsuits.
However, Zuck is staying strong and defying the leftist narrative by saying his social media platform shouldn’t be deciding what people should and shouldn’t post outside of the current laws. What’s more, he thinks that if a group or a politician does submit a political ad, that the people should be able to decide for themselves whether or not it’s worthy of being taken seriously.
“It’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their own judgments,” Zuckerberg told Gayle King during a recent CBS interview. “And, you know, I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”
“I think that people should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians,” he later added.
And here we see the real, underlying reason Democrats are mad at Zuckerberg; he’s treating the people who use his platform like adults.
One of the things you’ll notice in this day and age is a company’s reluctance not to censor or curtail speech in some way, shape, or form in order to avoid upsetting groups of people or organizations. They allow mobs or special interest groups to craft policy for them.
If you really think about it, you’ll find that this kind of attitude is rare in this day and age. In fact, the very first real example I’ve seen of resistance to censorship is from the online video game retailer Valve, the largest online video game trafficker in the western world. While Valve makes very popular games itself, it’s widely known for providing a platform for major and indie developers to release their games.
Valve came under massive scrutiny after indie developer “Acid” released a game called “Active Shooter” which puts you in the shoes of a school shooter, and gives you points based on how many police and innocent civilians you kill. Valve immediately took the game down and banned “Acid” from posting its games on its game store, citing the fact that the company has acted more as a “troll” than a developer and has had repeated abuses of copywriting content.
At that point, moral busybodies came at Valve and demanded it take more of an active role in censoring the content that was put on the site. Valve, however, made it clear that while it has lines, it’s role wasn’t to censor content, or pick and choose what its users get to buy.
“Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make,” said Valve executive Erik Johnson.
This was upsetting to many, especially the social justice warriors, who wanted more censorship of video games that depicted women or other subjects in any way but the ways they approved. With that, Valve essentially closed the door to outside control.
You can probably count the number of times a major corporation has taken this position without running out of fingers, with Facebook being the latest one. We live in an age of censorship, and it’s very rare for a company to resist the call for it, especially in the age of the internet when outrage brigades are a dime a dozen.
In a sane world, most companies would have this outlook about their customers. The idea that they should ultimately decide what they want to see, hear, or buy are their business.
Take Dick’s Sporting Goods for instance. While it’s perfectly within the right of a company to stop selling a product because they feel it doesn’t contribute as a societal good, in the instance of Dick’s, the company stopped selling AR-15s after the Parkland massacre because the CEO felt it necessary to take up the leftist narrative and “do something.” While the move could be understood from in a general way, the company essentially told society — i.e. its customers — that it couldn’t be trusted with firearms and wouldn’t be selling them to us anymore.
It’s insulting, especially to the millions of gun owners who have never done anyone harm with their guns, and never intend to.
Social media platforms work in the same way. It’s insulting when we’re told what we should and shouldn’t be seeing or hearing, or what we can and can’t post, or what information we can and can’t imbibe. It’s not that company’s job to tell me who I can and can’t speak with, or what posts I’d like to see.
What Zuck is doing is essentially confirming that fact. They aren’t our parents, and the Democrats, with their nanny state dreams, really don’t like that idea. They want more control over information and conversation. They want you to see select news stories and the “right” opinions.
This, though completely unspoken, is the real sin of Mark Zuckerberg to the left. He’s letting the people do what they want.
Let me be clear about something before I end this article. I don’t think Zuckerberg is some champion of free speech, nor do I think he’s doing this because he wants to look out for his users. I’m not about to forget that conservatives and libertarians on Facebook were dogged by censorship for years. I think Zuck is looking out for his business and his bottom line, which, while I can’t fault him for that, doesn’t lend to his moral character.
That said, it does please me to see someone fighting on the side of freedom, even if I don’t trust their motives. The enemy of my enemy is my ally…at least for the time being. Either way, I have a policy of praising leaders when they deserve it and lambasting them when they deserve that too. Zuckerberg definitely deserves praise for this stance.