A curious item from a story about Mark Zuckerberg’s recent appearance before Congress:
[Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez went on to ask [Zuckerberg] about Facebook’s policy on exempting political advertising from fact-checking, asking if she could pay to advertise an incorrect election date to people in a primarily black zip code, for example.
Zuckerberg said Facebook does support removing content in cases of violence or of census or voter suppression. He did not answer whether the company would take down outright lies if they were in political advertisements.
I asked Swamp Rabbit for his two-cents worth. Is Zuckerberg a closet right-winger or is he merely sucking up to conservatives to avoid the wrath of Donald Trump, who has accused Facebook of censoring conservative viewpoints?
“AOC asked if he’d take down lies from Facebook, yes or no,” he said. “There weren’t no wiggle room. He didn’t say yes.”
The rabbit mentioned the Cambridge Analytica data-dumping scandal and its effect on the 2016 elections. He noted that Zuckerberg is hosting dinner parties for Trump flunkies — Lindsey Graham, Tucker Carlson, and so on — who presumably want to be reassured that right-wingers can continue to use Facebook and other big tech companies to lie and slander with impunity.
“The Zuck must have got the message,” Swamp Rabbit added. “If he don’t play ball and spread Republican misinformation, Trump will sue Facebook for being biased against him.”
“But that’s crazy,” I replied. “Screening out lies and other inaccuracies isn’t the same thing as being biased.”
“It is if you’re the Zuck,” Swamp Rabbit said. “He thinks lying is covered by free speech laws. He ain’t just a billionaire, he’s an expert on free speech.”
It’s true. In a recent lecture, Zuckerberg argued that so-called social media are “the fifth estate,” exempt from the same rules that govern the fourth estate — the news media. He pretty much ignores the harm that can be done by powerful information sources that aren’t legally bound to refrain from overt lying.
He apparently thinks his money and power make him a sage, too enlightened to abide by the same imperfect rules that keep the news media from becoming totally untrustworthy. But he’s still young, maybe he’ll reconsider his apparent willingness to side with the Trumps of the world. Maybe he’ll crack a few books and realize how stupid his arguments are.
“Don’t count on it.” Swamp Rabbit said. “Them techie entrepreneurs don’t read, not unless it’s a book about how to make more money.”