Make no mistake, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are in trouble — not just here in America, but all over the world. The Tech Tyrant has only himself to blame. Had he just left us alone, he would not be so alone or widely viewed as a monopoly with all the inherent risks in that. He would also not be a national pariah.
When you are in charge of something, be it a Girl Scout troop or one of the most powerful tech companies in the world, the only way to stay out of trouble is with simple and clear rules applied equally. By not doing this, Zuckerberg has wrapped himself ’round his own axle.
Even a billion or so Facebook users are unhappy with him. They feel trapped on a platform that offends them. Much of this resentment comes from feeling swindled. After herding us all into his monopolistic public square, Zuckerberg changed the rules.
On both the micro and macro levels, as Facebook arbitrarily singles out conservatives for suppression, censorship, and purges (not to mention left-wing “fact checks”), all while leftists doing the same remain mostly unmolested. There is no question that this is a digital public square lousy with double standards that we all witness on an almost daily basis
Facebook’s entire problem is right there on its page of Kafka-esque “community standards.” What I mean by Kafka-esque is the opaqueness of rules that can be interpreted in so many different ways — which means there really are no rules, which means 1) you don’t know what the boundaries are, so 2) you are intimidated into not expressing yourself fully, and 3) you can be suspended or purged by Facebook without ever knowing why.
Facebook’s rules against “hate speech” are a perfect example, basically a license to purge whoever for whatever:
Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:
- National origin,
- Religious affiliation,
- Sexual orientation,
- Sex, gender, or gender identity, or
- Serious disabilities or diseases.
Obviously, Zuckerberg created these rules as a means to appease the braying left, especially those in the elitist media. But what he failed to understand is that in doing so, no one is happy.
The right is disgusted because Facebook’s corporate censors are manipulating these rules to suppress, silence, and purge us.
Alternately, the easily triggered left, who interpret mere words and ideas as violence and racism, are disgusted because Facebook is not keeping its promise to enforce its “community standards,” which in their twisted minds means purging anyone to the right of Don Lemon.
The world would look much different for Zuckerberg today had he kept his authoritarian impulses under control and governed Facebook in the same way Ma Bell and the U.S. Postal System were governed 35 years ago when those were our primary means of communication.
For example, threats of violence, criminal conspiracies, and committing actual crimes (child pornography, etc.) were all illegal via phone and mail. Those guidelines not only made sense; they were easy for users to follow due to crystal clear boundaries.
So, yes — and this is the key point — there were “community standards” governing the phone and mail. But those rules were not arbitrarily created by the same monolithic entity in charge of one of our primary means of communication. Rather, those laws were created by the lawmakers who represent us.
In other words, Ma Bell and the post office did not control the way in which Americans communicate. They were not monitoring our phone conversations or reading our mail to see if we were engaging in whatever the arbitrary definition of “hate speech” was. By extension, they did not have the power to purge users via those arbitrary rules.
Moreover, there was even the equivalent of a “block” button back then. If you were harassed, you could get an unlisted phone number or rent a post office box to which you alone controlled access.
Facebook (along with Twitter and YouTube) are all guilty of bait-and-switch. They lure us onto their platforms with the promise of unbridled free speech, create their respective monopolies, and then go the full-Kafka against opinions that personally offend them.
When you are talking about something as sacred as free speech, the exchange of ideas, and the right to assemble, monopolies like Facebook should not have the power to purge anyone. If you are not breaking the law, you should be left alone.
Unelected corporations should not be in charge of how we communicate. Like any public place, only representatives accountable to the public should make the rules that govern the town square of Facebook.
Yes, the left and their media allies would have a tantrum if Zuckerberg governed Facebook like a public utility. But in that situation Zuckerberg could at least stand on the following principle:
Hey, free speech is free speech. If you are offended, block him. If you are harassed, block him. If you believe someone posted fake news, out them with facts. If you believe someone lied, tell the truth. If you believe someone is denigrating you, ignore him. If you believe someone is breaking the law, send a screencap to law enforcement. We do not tell people, even evil people — commies, Nazis, Antifa, the KKK — how they can or cannot speak. That is up to your elected officials. Additionally, we have no algorithm that controls the flow of information because that would be un-American. Finally, no one, not Obama, not Cambridge Analytics, gets access to your data. That is solely up to you. Facebook is an equal free speech playing field where you control what you do and do not see. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. So quit your godless crybabying and remember sticks n’ stones.
No matter how much a far-left CNN or Washington Post whined because Zuckerberg refused to censor conservatives, this simple standard equally applied would be very difficult to argue with. Plus, if that actually was Zuckerberg’s standard, a lot of us would be defending him right now, instead of hoping the government moves in to break his fascist public square into a thousand pieces.