Don’t be fooled. This is not some humbled executive begrudgingly accepting that his industry needs regulation. This is one of the richest men on earth inviting the American government to help him do what he already wants to do anyway.
Let’s be perfectly clear: Every single regulatory measure Zuckerberg is calling for would benefit his company, his political allies, and himself personally. At best, regulation would just deflect from the unsavory practices of Facebook and its competitors; at worst, it would enlist government sponsorship for those practices.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner greeted Zuckerberg’s announcement by saying he was “glad to see” that “the era of the social media Wild West is over.”
Of course, when Warner refers to the “social media Wild West,” he’s not talking about tech giants routinely censoring and shadow-banning conservatives, banning memes that lampoon their journalist friends, and blatantly discriminating against Republican candidates during election campaigns.
No, Warner means the Wild West of relatively unbridled free speech that allowed millions of Americans to crack the consensus forged by the political establishment of both parties in 2016.
When he says “the Wild West is over,” Warner means just what Google’s CFO meant when he promised to “use the great strength and resources and reach we have to continue to advance really important values,” just days after President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
Those on the left are determined to prevent a repeat of the 2016 presidential election, which is why they are so adamantly pushing for more censorship online. It’s just their luck that they have a potential ally in Zuckerberg, a man who would love to throw this hands up and say, “Hey, the government handles that.”
In his Washington Post op-ed, Zuckerberg calls for an “independent body” to do his censorship for him and decide what “counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech, and more.”
Zuckerberg actually has the gall to write, “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree,” asserting that while internet companies should be “accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content,” those standards should be dictated by government officials.
To be sure, outspoken conservatives such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have demanded answers from Big Tech regarding its ever-tightening campaign of censorship against the political right and Silicon Valley’s exploitation of its power over the main forums of modern public discourse to potentially swing elections — but their point has been that censorship of any kind is an affront to the American people. Zuckerberg’s response, however, is to propose more censorship, not less.
It’s all ridiculous. We don’t need leftist bureaucrats to tell us what we can say on the internet any more than we need leftist tech executives to police our speech. We don’t need an “independent body” to protect us from “harmful content” — we already have the Supreme Court, the First Amendment, and 100 years of precedent to guide our governance of public forums.
These are plenty sufficient to prohibit viewpoint-based discrimination while banning illegal acts such as calls to violence and allowing private platforms like Facebook to enact reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions according to their taste.
Sen. Howley, for instance, has proposed that the special privileges Facebook enjoys under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be conditioned on it serving as a viewpoint-neutral public forum. For some reason, though, that’s not the kind of regulation Zuckerberg is interested in.
Zuckerberg’s other “concessions” are no less self-serving. His call for greater transparency in political advertising, for instance, is laughable. Zuckerberg argues that we already have sufficient regulation of ads run by candidates and parties, despite the fact that Facebook infamously banned Republican ads in 2018, but he asserts that we need stronger rules governing ads about “divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference,” feeding into the Democrats’ absurd narrative that a few Russian Facebook ads explain Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
In a perfect illustration of the globalist corporate mindset, Zuckerberg also calls for importing privacy laws from the European Union, where people are routinely thrown in jail for social media posts, arguing that “effective privacy and data protection needs a globally harmonized framework.”
Luckily, the regulators President Trump has put in place are wise to Zuckerberg’s game. As FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr put it, “When large corporations call for greater government control, it’s not usually an act of charity.”
That’s exactly the sort of hard-headed realism we need to protect our fundamental rights, as Facebook and other Big Tech companies ramp up their campaign of anti-conservative censorship, especially now that Zuckerberg is trying to enlist liberal politicians with tremendous power as allies in that effort.