Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to allow non-fact checked political ads on Facebook has raised the ire of ultra-liberal politicians and activists, including Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has joined the ranks of those who are condemning Zuckerberg for embracing free speech, declaring that the Facebook CEO “should pay for what he is doing to our democracy.” In a strident speech, Clinton also railed against “fake news,” complained that Facebook undermines “freedom and democracy,” and stated that people who are fighting against the “war on truth” have a difficult time combating the algorithms. Clinton then issued a warning, stating that Facebook’s allowing of political ads would result in a government that would come down hard on the social media site.
Clinton is so wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. Obviously, her understanding of free speech from a legal perspective if flawed. Political ads are a protected form of speech under the First Amendment. Also, they aren’t just found on Facebook. Newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, and other outlets publish or broadcast political ads from one or even both parties.
The twice-failed presidential candidate isn’t bothered by the fact that political ads are published by various companies, perhaps because most of the mainstream news media leans left. But, she does have a big problem with ads on social media. The former first lady seems to believe that the airing of factually incorrect political ads would cause people to automatically believe everything these ads say. Nothing could be further from the truth. While some people will embrace the information given in a particular ad, others will reject it, while many others will do further research. The idea that a few Facebook posts could sway a whole election is simply untrue — 2016 is testament to this.
Clinton’s vehement attack on Facebook has nothing to do with the fact that she cares about “fake news,” and everything to do with the fact that she blames Facebook for her loss 2016. Also on this list is Jill Stein, the Russian government, farmers, white women, and pretty much everyone else in the country not named Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her own writings point out just how out of touch she is.
The fact that Clinton is essentially threatening Facebook with future censorship is truly alarming. While the odds of Clinton ever becoming president are slim to none, plenty of Democratic politicians are eager to limit freedom of speech on social media platforms. Perhaps this is why Twitter head Jack Dorsey recently announced that he would not allow any political ads on his site. Naturally, Dorsey has garnered a great deal of praise for his position, but savvy social media users have accurately noted that the move makes it difficult for small organizations to speak out against the status quo.
As CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has the power to decide what type of content should and should not be allowed on his site. There is nothing preventing users, other media outlets, or other social media platforms from filling in the fact-checking gap. And, let’s be clear — we should fact-check political ads, no matter where they come from. But, this isn’t Zuckerberg’s job. Removing Facebook from the equation ensures this process is fair for users, and not simply promoting Zuckerberg’s personal politics.