San Francisco, CA — The mainstream media is frustrated with Facebook, and it is beginning to show. Recent stories are that the couple in control of the organization, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, are under fire for a recent hospital named after them. The couple made a significant donation that resulted in special recognition, something that happens regularly in businesses across the country.
The reason they are upset is because Facebook was allowing “disinformation” to spread over the internet. The San Francisco leaders were specifically upset that they were allowing election “disinformation” and COVID-19 “disinformation” to spread across the internet.
In other words, Facebook was allowing conservative thought to spread online, and they have a problem with it.
Had this been a donation by Jack Dorsey from Twitter, they would have celebrated his philanthropy. Dorsey and his team have been quick to label, remove, and block anyone they did not agree with. They have even threatened to completely remove President Donald Trump from the platform once he leaves office.
Conservatives have a completely different thought on the subject, as many have faced restrictions, banning, removal, and more. Conservative pages, including our own, have seen their reach limited or even blocked entirely. So the real story is not that Facebook is not taking action on their part.
The real story here is that Facebook has so much power; they can essentially do what they want, and everyone is left at their mercy. Facebook has over 1 billion registered users, which means it is the largest social media platform in the world. It is by far the easiest place to reach people with information.
The real question comes back to is the protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It’s the same argument of publisher versus platform that has been argued on the conservative side for some time.
To argue that social media should comply with specific guidelines to allow or disallow posts is a concern. However, allowing Facebook to display bias and discriminate against conservatives would also be a problem.
I am a big supporter of freedom, so it really should be looked at in a different manner. Facebook has significant power over users, and as such, it should clearly give guidance on what is and is not allowed. Facebook has the right to choose what it wants to allow on its website, but it also should apply those restrictions consistently across any spectrum.
The company is not overly transparent in its algorithms to explain how and why content appears on the site. The company will argue that it is a trade secret and that it cannot be made publicly available. So the question becomes, how is the lack of bias and the lack of discrimination proven?
I am certainly not arguing for government oversight of the social media industry, as more government restrictions are always bad. Should there be a requirement for Facebook to deliver audit results to prove that bias and discrimination is not occurring?
I believe that argument could be made under Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The question will be if Facebook is considered a public accommodation. The argument should be that Facebook is an entertainment site and would fall under the same guidelines as other entertainment venues.
While businesses are not required to file reports to prove their compliance with Title II, their operations are generally more open and visible to the public. Someone on the outside would easily see the discrimination or experience it and have more visible evidence.
Facebook’s business is all hidden behind computer code with only a final product available. Conservatives may argue bias and discrimination, but there is little evidence to prove it other than the banning of individuals or the experience in decreased reach, as we have experienced along with many other organizations.
Facebook seems to lie in an area where it is able to exercise immense power but have little consequences for how it uses that power. While the federal government has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the organization, it does not appear that compliance with Title II is part of that suit.
This simply means that Facebook does not appear at risk. Facebook gets a free pass in how it uses power to influence 1 billion people. While it must comply with the law, there is no way to prove compliance without more information.
JD Washington is the Editor-in-Chief at The Liberty Loft and host of The JD Washington Show. Be sure to subscribe to The Liberty Loft’s daily newsletter. If you enjoy our content, please consider donating to support The Liberty Loft so we can continue to deliver great content.