Social media censorship came to the forefront during Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent sit down with ABC host George Stephanopoulous. To the surprise of many, Zuckerberg came out firmly in favor of the government being more involved in online conversations.
“All the laws around political advertising today primarily focus on a candidate and election, right, so ‘Vote for this candidate in this election.’ But that’s not, primarily, what we saw Russia trying to do and other folks who were trying to interfere in elections. And what we saw them doing was talking about divisive political issues,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg went on to add what he considered negative tactics by campaigns using social media to communicate issues.
“They’d run, simultaneously, different campaigns on social media trying to argue for immigration or against immigration. And the goal wasn’t, actually, to advance the issue forward. It was just to rile people up and be divisive,” the Facebook founder added. “But the current laws around what is political advertising don’t consider discussion issues to be political. So that’s just one of the examples of where you know, it’s not clear to me, after working on this for a few years now, that we want a private company to be making that kind of fundamental decision about, you know, what is political speech? And how should that be regulated?”
And that’s about when Zuckerberg signaled support for the state to play a heavier role.
“We need new rules, right? It’s not, you can’t say that an election is just some period before people go to vote,” he continued. “I mean, the kind of information operations that these folks are trying to do now are ongoing, permanently. So I just think that we need new rules on this. Now, at Facebook, we’re doing the best that we can on each of these issues. But I think, ideally, you would have standards that you would want all of the major companies to be abiding by.”
At this point in the interview, Stephanopoulous mentioned the push back already initiated by the Federal Communications Commission. One of the two commissioners has already said, “No, we don’t want to get into the business of policing the First Amendment.” To this Zuckerberg responded, “I don’t think that that’s what this is, though, right? I think it’s you can say that kind of any regulation around what someone says online is protected. But I think that that’s clearly not right today.”
Surprisingly, FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry seems far less interested in regulating social media as one of its most iconic personalities is.
“It isn’t government’s role to regulate our discussion of ‘divisive political issues’,” he said.
Matthew Berry also said it is odd to him that someone like Zukerberg — who had essentially a “megaphone” himself to promote his opinions — would be okay with “squelching the speech” of everyday American people.
Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie also weighed in on Facebook’s purposed regulations on various types of speech and communication.
“Really terrible — Zuckerberg is talking about regulating ‘political speech’ — all speech (commercial, artistic, etc.) should be free but ‘especially’ political speech,” he said.
Facebook is now calling on expanded government policing for online speech. This means, any speech considered “divisive” would be regulated as if it’s a campaign ad. This includes any posts related to immigration.
Former President George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Freedom of speech is an intrinsic right of all Americans. The regulations Zuckerberg is calling for will most certainly threaten this right, and change the country forever.