Over the past several months we’ve seen numerous examples of how social media giants from Twitter to Youtube have been cracking down on free speech. King of the Nerds Mark Zuckerberg keeps showing that he doesn’t quite have a handle on this First Amendment thing, either:
Zuckerberg said that going forward Facebookwould rank sites based on trustworthiness, based on consumer data they collected which shows how much users trust various news outlets, according to BuzzFeed.
“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” Zuckerberg told reporters after his speech. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”
While that move to rank sites by trustworthiness is theoretically divorced from any political affiliations, leading conservative sites saw it as another massive step taken by Facebook to censor them.
In a post on the Gateway Pundit, the decision was pegged to the upcoming 2018 election, with the site declaring that the “final remaining conservative voices on Facebook will be eliminated by Election Day.”
Will they be true to their word? Meanwhile, a large group of conservative commentators and online pundits want more:
1) Provide Transparency: We need detailed information so everyone can see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right. Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes about reports on content and users when they think it necessary. This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.
2) Provide Clarity on ‘Hate Speech’: “Hate speech” is a common concern among social media companies, but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.
3) Provide Equal Footing for Conservatives: Top social media firms, such as Google and YouTube, have chosen to work with dishonest groups that are actively opposed to the conservative movement, including the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those companies need to make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias. That same attitude should be applied to employment diversity efforts. Tech companies need to embrace viewpoint diversity.
4) Mirror the First Amendment: Tech giants should afford their users nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. That standard, the result of centuries of American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of content that threatens violence or spews obscenity, without trampling on free speech liberties that have long made the United States a beacon for freedom.
Social media companies must address these complaints if they wish to have any credibility with the conservative movement and its tens of millions of supporters. It is our hope they will do so in a positive way. If the social media firms engage the conservative movement with the spirit of cooperation, we will do our best to assist them.
It remains to be seen whether or not Marky Mark will accept their offer…