Today, President Trump reportedly plans to issue an as-yet undisclosed executive order aimed at ending political bias in the “fact-checking” and censoring of conservative posts on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
This has been brewing for a long time, but it came to a head when Twitter, for the first time, branded one of Trump’s tweets as substantially false and linked to CNN and Washington Post articles “debunking” it. Problem was, the tweet was about mail-in voting being an invitation to voter fraud, something that’s been widely established around the country, even as liberal media outlets continue to don blindfolds and deny it exists, in the same way that social media giants deny that bias exists in their ranks, no matter how obvious it is or how many former employees blow the whistle about it.
For instance, take a look at the past comments of Twitter’s “Head of Site Integrity,” the person tasked with insuring that posts are “just the facts, ma’am,” with no political partisanship:
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook tried to distance his company from this stench, saying, "We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wasn’t thrilled with that, responding: "Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me. Please leave our employees out of this. We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. This does not make us an 'arbiter of truth.' Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions."
First of all, I think criticizing an employee is fair game when that employee’s job is to prevent partisanship on Twitter and his history of radical leftwing partisanship on Twitter includes denigrating “flyover country” for electing a “racist tangerine” and putting “actual Nazis in the White House.” Seriously, did NOBODY else apply for that job?
Secondly, the problem arose when these social media platforms started yielding to the left’s demands to brand anything that they disagree with as a “lie.” I’m hard pressed to think of a single leftist policy of the past hundred years that hasn’t been a complete disaster, but I don’t accuse them of lying when they claim they work. I just assume they’re deluded and say, “Bless their hearts.”
These platforms have grown into the equivalent of America’s town square, a place where free speech should reign supreme. But they’ve been threatened with lawsuits because of what users post on them. They’ve enjoyed legal immunity because they’re classified as a "platform" (merely a conduit for other people’s comments), not a “publisher” (which implies that they control what is or isn’t posted.) Publishers can be sued. This is why they need to back off the editing and censoring of posts if they don’t want to worry about losing their immunity from lawsuits.
On the other hand, in our lawsuit-happy world, if Trump declares them publishers, that will practically force them to start exerting even more control over speech on all sides. They’ll no longer let radical leftists post threats against people they disagree with, but they’ll also edit and censor any remotely “controversial” posts by conservatives. That could easily include many of Trump’s own tweets.
As much as I hate the one-sided politics of the social media giants, I’d hate to see them replaced with even heavier censorship of both sides. How about returning to the idea of the Internet as the 21st century version of the Founders’ vision of a free marketplace of ideas, where bad ideas weren’t declared bad by self-appointed gatekeepers but by the wisdom of the people in shooting them full of holes and discarding them?
Now, I hope I don’t get banned from Facebook and Twitter for using the phrase “shooting them full of holes.”