(Natural News) In 2019, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stood at Georgetown University and pledged to “fight to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible,” promising in uncertainty to “err on the side of greater expression.” He went on, “I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true.”
(Article by Rachel Bovard republished from NYPost.com)
Such declarations seem almost quaint now, if not outright lies.
In the wake of the 2020 election, COVID-19 and every remotely controversial event that has followed, Twitter, Facebook and Google — America’s premier speech platforms, which house and shape our national discourse — have taken the decidedly opposite approach, limiting the free flow of information, dialogue and any opinion that runs counter to what the Silicon Valley speech gods and their army of partisan fact-checkers have singlehandedly determined as fact.
Speech, as such, is no longer allowed on the platforms. Just correct speech. And under the great dystopian valance that cloaks America’s major speech venues, the speech the platforms deem correct often turns out to be demonstrably wrong.
Consider how Facebook, in particular, treated the circumstances surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen acquitted last week of all charges in the self-defense killings of two men and the shooting of another during last summer’s riots in Kenosha, Wis. Immediately after the incident occurred, and despite video evidence which made a self-defense charge instantly plausible, Facebook declared it a “mass murder” and under that justification blocked searches for Rittenhouse’s name and any content in “praise or support” for him on the site — including links to contribute to his legal defense and videos purporting to show Rittenhouse providing aid to protesters.
In other words, Facebook determined that the only speech allowed on its platform was to declare Rittenhouse’s guilt, not his innocence. Perhaps prompted by Facebook’s actions or merely in spite of them, PayPal cut off affiliation with fundraising efforts for Rittenhouse, and so did GoFundMe.
PolitiFact, a Facebook-affiliated arbiter of facts, declared it was “false” that Rittenhouse was in legal possession of his firearm. The “fact-checker” did so by failing to account for exceptions in Wisconsin law which made his possession legal. (The gun charge was thrown out during the trial for the same reasons.)
A jury has acquitted Rittenhouse on all charges — those brought by the prosecutors and by Facebook — so now what? Will all the accounts which were banned or otherwise punished for speaking in his defense be reinstated? Will the self-righteous fact-checkers at PolitiFact be held accountable in any way? Will Facebook admit it was wildly wrong or simply pretend like it didn’t make a blundering, ham-fisted judgment about Rittenhouse absent any due process, one which contributed to shaping a false national narrative?
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been spectacularly wrong on an issue of national importance. Remember the COVID lab-leak theory? Throughout 2020, Facebook shut down and banned discussion that COVID-19 originated in a leak from a lab in Wuhan on the grounds that it was a dangerous conspiracy theory. In May, the company was forced to reverse itself after “experts” suddenly determined the theory to be credible.
“When does ‘misinformation’ stop being misinformation on social media?” asked The Wall Street Journal. The answer, said the editorial board, is “when Democratic government authorities give permission.”
And therein lies the rub for Facebook, which is decidedly no longer the bastion of free speech its founder once proclaimed. It is a central hub of America’s discourse, one which bears no accountability for being wrong about major cultural questions — despite the fact that in doing so, it becomes the purveyor of misinformation it deems only others to be.
Justice Louis Brandeis, in his famous 1927 concurrence in Whitney v. California, hit upon the essence of robust speech as its own corrective measure. “If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies,” he wrote, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Facebook, it seems, has lost the plot. Absent policy measures to break Facebook’s scale, limit the platform’s ideological moderation or legal changes which give users more accountability, it is unlikely to get it back.
Rachel Bovard is the senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and the senior tech columnist for The Federalist.
Read more at: NYPost.com