Speaking to an audience at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit 2020 in Salt Lake City, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg made some bold statements in his candid speech, drawing him back into the headlines and the crosshairs of influential Democrats. He promised a different approach to politics on Facebook which he predicted would “piss off a lot of people”.
While explaining that it’s too hard for individuals doing content moderation to actually determine the line between what is fact in fiction, he said “We’re going to stand up for free expression,” adding that “It’s unfortunate that this is such a controversial thing.”
When asked about his critics like prominent leftist figures that have been calling for more censorship on social media, Zuckerberg said that they are “people not at risk of being censored themselves.”
So far, Mark Zuckerberg has been delivering on his promise. Engagements are up across the board for conservative Facebook pages. Quite the turnaround from a few years ago when Facebook executives were bragging about lowering traffic to conservative websites by 93%.
This week, Pelosi had demanded that Facebook remove a meme video that was shared by President Trump thus making it go viral. In the video, the events at the State of the Union address given by Trump were rearranged to show Pelosi ripping the speech right after the president honors the Tuskegee airman in attendance. Here’s the post that Pelosi is demanding be censored:
It's pretty offensive that Pelosi thinks so little of Americans that we can't understand and enjoy a damn parody video. As CD Media's Court Anderson put it last week, " The gall Pelosi possesses to rip up a message of hope–upon the eve of her greatest failure–is beyond silly, beyond childish."
CNBC reached out to Facebook for comment. Spokesmen Andy Stone issued this statement: “I can confirm for you that the video doesn’t violate our policies.”
A spokesman for President Trump’s reelection campaign, Tim Murtaugh, issued his own statement stating, “If Nancy Pelosi fears images of her ripping up the speech, perhaps she shouldn’t have ripped up the speech.”
Pelosi’s chief of staff, Drew Hammill tweeted this in response:
Stone shot back on Twitter, replying, “Sorry, are you suggesting the president didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?”
If you look closely at Pelosi’s argument calling for the banning of a meme, she wants to decide what constitutes free speech. More specifically, she wants free speech replaced with approved speech.
The CNBC article points this out, and their actions make it painfully clear. Pelosi claimed that ripping the SOTU speech apart was done out of some perverted “courtesy”, so what has changed? If she’s not proud of what she did when it’s presented, does that mean that she’s admitting that her actions were…deplorable?
Just a few hours after Zuckerberg’s statements were made in Utah, George Soros (the billionaire “philanthropist”) wrote a column for the New York Times where he issued a dire warning for the the anti-free speech crowd: Zuckerberg will help President Donald Trump win in 2020. He claims that there is an “informal mutual assistance operation or agreement.”
I believe that Mr Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realize that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr Zuckerberg’s in making money.George Soros
Soros also sent this tweet for the millions that couldn’t access his article behind the New York Times paywall.
He’s not even totally wrong. What he’s saying coincides with the truth; SJW censorship obliterates Zuckerberg’s business model and makes him personally responsible for everything that’s posted which is not only expensive but untenable. Not to mention the potential exposure to legal issues brought by people who complain that Facebook hasn’t done enough to protect their “vulnerable” children from conservatives.
And regarding President Trump’s reelection, it’s strange that Soros would say, in essence, that active censorship of political thought would hurt the President’s efforts come November. Free speech works in the President’s favor? Yes, of course. it’s just odd to hear it openly suggested as justification for American censorship.
Soros wasn’t the only one with a bone to pick with Zuckerberg lately. The nation’s biggest loser, Hillary Clinton had some choice words as well.
From a profile piece by The Atlantic late last month:
Now that Clinton gets it, she’s horrified—and she’s specifically alarmed by what she views as Mark Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to battle the spread of disinformation and propaganda on his own platform. There was the time, last spring, when a slowed-down video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi caught fire online. The distorted speed, which made Pelosi appear as though she was slurring her words, seemed designed to make her appear cognitively impaired. “Google took it off YouTube … so I contacted Facebook,” Clinton said. “I said, Why are you guys keeping this up? This is blatantly false. Your competitors have taken it down. And their response was, We think our users can make up their own minds.”
…“They have, in my view, contorted themselves into making arguments about freedom of speech and censorship,” Clinton said, “which they are hanging on to because it’s in their commercial interests.”
We know that Soros and Clinton don’t stand for free speech so maybe there's some validity to the argument that Zuckerberg is really trying to redeem his platform.
Or, Zuckerberg could be afraid of the growing Democratic resistance to him and their attempts to make Facebook responsible for a Trump 2020 landslide (to acknowledge why Trump will win would require a degree of self-reflection that many modern Democrats lack).
Sure, Zuckerberg is now embracing ideas that align with points conservatives have been making for years like his statements that he doesn’t “like that the list of socially acceptable things keeps getting shorter” or “Free expression — not ‘censorship’ — will best protect democracy.”
But the social media giant is no dummy and he can probably sense which way the winds are blowing.
So while Zuckerberg’s motives align with free speech for now, don't expect him to maintain his newfound principles once it becomes unprofitable.
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