In days long past, a news story would have to convince several people to reach print. Firstly, a reporter would have to be convinced to write it. The reporter would then have to convince his editor to run it. If successful, the story would appear online and in print. These days, however, there’s another person who must be convinced — Mark Zuckerberg.
The Facebook CEO reminded us of his burgeoning role as America’s de facto editor-in-chief during the controversy over alleged “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella. Numerous conservative media outlets, including Breitbart News, were prevented from posting stories naming Ciaramella as the alleged whistleblower on Facebook.
The stories are still available on the websites of those news sites, of course. But in a world where 52 percent of Americans get their news directly from Facebook, that’s becoming less and less acceptable. Mark Zuckerberg is now an information gatekeeper to half the country, picking and choosing what news they read.
Meanwhile, his company still claims in court that they shouldn’t be subject to the laws that govern regular publishers, like defamation. The nerve!
A dwindling number of sites can rely on traffic from outside of Facebook to stay afloat. For others, their very existence is governed by unaccountable Facebook executives in Silicon Valley. One algorithm change is all that’s required for years of work to go up in smoke.
Needless to say, there’s no due process. If a landlord wants to evict you from a parking lot, they have to go through the legal system to do so. If Facebook wants to terminate a page that your livelihood and those of your employees depend on, they don’t even have to send you an email. They can just do it.
Republicans had a chance to fix this sorry state of affairs when they controlled both houses of Congress in the first two years of the Trump administration. They didn’t.
And here is the result of their dithering: Mark Zuckerberg gets to censor a key detail of a major national news story, the name of alleged “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella.
Facebook spokesmen said that the company would change its policy once enough public figures and media outlets named him — but Ciaramella has since been named by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), Ryan Fournier, Sebastian Gorka, Dinesh D’Souza, New York Magazine’s Yashar Ali (who confirmed the identity with multiple sources), The Hill‘s Saagar Enjeti, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Jack Posobiec, and Kurt Schlichter to name just a few. But Facebook still hasn’t changed its policy.
Then again, why would they change it? There’s no law that says they have to keep their word. And they are convinced Republicans won’t pass one!
Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.