Mark Zuckerberg Has no Idea of How Free Speech Works

Image Source: Bloomberg

Facebook and censorship are two nouns that have been in the same sentence a lot of times. It all has something to do with Mr. Zuckerberg’s infamous algorithm changes and his repeated violations against the free speech of his users. This was especially demonstrated during the last three years where groups of certain ideologies had their Facebook pages banned from the platform. Truthfully, it isn’t just Facebook. Most giant American tech companies seem to be run by a group of people that are members of the same political wing and they have repeatedly used their platforms against their ideological opponents.

More Regulations

And just this year, Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post calling for more government regulations of the Internet against “harmful content.” He wanted the government to be the one to define what is harmful and that Internet companies should only enforce the rules they set. He believes that Internet companies should be the ones responsible to define what is “free speech” and what is “harmful speech.” He also proposed other things that the government should regulate on the Internet, including election integrity and privacy.

These suggestions are very dangerous and show just how much Zuckerberg doesn’t care about the Internet and its users beyond him making money out of everyone’s data. It is possible that the event where he was called into appearing before the Congress last year pissed him off. All he wanted was to make money, but then people started arguing in his platform, people writing articles about “what kind of people use his platform,” and finally the US Congress telling him how to do his job. He realized that giving people too much free speech isn’t probably a smart move if all he wanted was people getting along and using their data to turn to a profit. And so he called for regulations.

Image Source: DNA India

He probably thought “instead of me, why don’t you define what is hate speech or not, since you’re so good at defining it.” His exact words, however, were: “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree.” “I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own.”

To be fair to Zuck, he did everything he could to please his masters: he had groups of people banned from his platform. He had people mislabeled as producers of fake news and had those people banned. His algorithm was put into question time and again. And every time, he had to change them. And yet, that still wasn’t enough for the people he wanted to serve. He lost a lot of users over this, and lost, even more, when they started banning people.

Bad Idea

It isn’t like hate speech hasn’t been defined already by his government. But putting the power to decide to the gov’t is a bit too much. If this power came into the hands of a certain group that wants to erase the Internet presence of their enemies, they can effectively erase those people by having them banned and regulated off the Internet. If Zuckerberg had his way, the people banned would have no one to complain to. “Oh, the government said your ideas and speech is harmful, so out you go.” And you can’t go complaining to the government because they’re the ones who had your speech regulated in the first place. The most annoying is that if you’re a user from a different country, you won’t even have an option to complain because the “government” Zuckerberg is referring to is the USA government. If you are not a US citizen you are not protected by US laws.

Image Source: Business Insider

Instead of regulating what people say, maybe it is better to regulate Internet companies from being biased against their users. For example, if they cannot become the public square where people can say whatever they want to say, then instead these companies should be held responsible for what another person post on their platforms; or, for example, forbid companies from marketing themselves as platforms of free speech if they’re going to be moderated.