In an interview published Wednesday at Wired Magazine, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg let the cat out of the bag, telling the tech outlet that he basically wants to trade free speech and free expression for “safety” and an “informed community,” Breitbart reported.
“I think at the heart of a lot of these issues we face are tradeoffs between real values that people care about. You know, when you think about issues like fake news or hate speech, right, it’s a tradeoff between free speech and free expression and safety and having an informed community. These are all the challenging situations that I think we are working to try to navigate as best we can,” he said in response to a question about “philosophical changes” that have been going through his mind in the previous few days.
One can’t help but think of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote regarding safety and liberty: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
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Allum Bokhari added:
Zuckerberg’s “trade-off” confirms Facebook’s long-suspected agenda: to take the platform away from first amendment principles, towards a European understanding of speech, in which elites determine what ordinary people can and cannot say, based on vague, flexible terms like “hate speech” and “fake news.”
Similarly to YouTube’s lurch towards censoriousness, this is a massive bait-and-switch. Silicon Valley promised users open platforms where they would be able to air their views on an equal playing field, without interference from corporate media, political elites, and gatekeepers.
Now Zuckerberg wants to install himself as the ultimate gatekeeper, presiding over the speech and expression of the platform’s 2 billion users. In order to ensure “safety” and an “informed community,” he is going to decide what information is allowed to spread on the platform, and what information is going to be suppressed.
The comments come on the heels of two reports that indicate the social media giant’s recent algorithm changes have deliberately hurt right-of-center sites like this one while boosting more liberal sites like CNN.
As a result of the apparent effort to silence non-PC voices, alternative sites like ProAmerica Only and Patriotic Space (formerly Rightbook) have sprung up, joining already established outlets like Tea Party Community. There’s even an alternative for Christians — SocialCross. Users also seem to be gravitating towards other social media outlets that champion free expression, like Gab.ai, MeWe and Minds.com.
Unfortunately, none of these sites have anywhere near the reach that Facebook has — at least for the moment.
Bokhari said that by adopting a more editorial role, Facebook “may be violating the justification for Communication Decency Act’s safe harbor provision, which grants online platforms legal immunity from content posted by their users.”
And this is nothing new. While speaking at Recode’s annual conference, Campbell Brown, head of Facebook’s news partnership team, said:
This is not us stepping back from news. This is us changing our relationship with publishers and emphasizing something that Facebook has never done before: It’s having a point of view, and it’s leaning into quality news. … We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost. (Emphasis added)
Meanwhile, Rasmussen said that “just over half of regular Facebook users are considering bailing out of the popular social media site over concerns about the privacy of their personal data.”
The report adds:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 34% of American Adults now say they rarely or never use Facebook. Sixty-four percent (64%) use the social media site at least several times a month, with 39% who use it every day.
Will Zuckerberg get the message? Judging from what we’ve seen in the past, we doubt it…
- Facebook In Congress’s Cross-Hairs, While Zuckerberg Plays Hide & Seek – A Knock-On Effect: Propping Up “BANNED: How Facebook Enables Militant Jihad!”
- Open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from a frustrated, fed-up conservative
- Zuckerberg to BBC in 2009: We won’t sell personal information — Video, poll
- Analysis: Facebook’s algorithm changes help CNN, liberal sites, hurts conservative sites
- Congress needs to rein in out-of-control social media giants while there’s still time
And if you’re as concerned about online censorship as we are, go here and order this book: