AOC Gives Mark Zuckerberg the Third Degree About Political Ads
When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the House Financial Services Committee, he must have known that he was entering the lion’s den. The Republicans are mad at him for instances of conservative posts being censored on his social media platform. The Democrats are mad at him because he is a billionaire and therefore should not exist.
One can count Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York among the latter. She decided to interrogate Zuckerberg about why he decided that Facebook is not going to ban political ads. According to CNBC, the social media tycoon considered such a ban but ultimately decided against it. He decided to err on the side of free expression. He will even go so far as to not police such ads for accuracy. The proper response to bad speech is more and better speech, not censorship.
Hot Air noted that the statement roused the ire of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, who has had a running battle with Zuckerberg. Warren did not like the idea of a laisse faire approach to political speech on Facebook. Warren made a bizarre allegation concerning a plot cooked up between Zuckerberg and President Donald Trump to, in effect, open Facebook to false and misleading ads from the Trump campaign.
“So to sum up, Zuckerberg warned that, as president, Elizabeth Warren would be a threat to the existence of Facebook (which is true). Warren responded about a week later by suggesting Zuckerberg had made a backroom deal with Trump (which isn’t true). Zuckerberg clarified that the ad policy, which hasn’t changed, is to allow for maximum free expression. Rather than having Facebook make judgments about individual ads or simply removing all political ads, others are free to judge the truth of those ads.”
During the hearings, Ocasio-Cortez took up the issue. She asked a couple of hypotheticals.
The first question AOC asked was whether or not she could target people living in predominately African-American neighborhoods and advertise the wrong election day. Zuckerberg replied that no she couldn’t because that kind of voter suppression is against the law.
Then AOC offered another case. Could she put up an ad claiming that several Republican members of congress supported the Green New Deal? Zuckerberg thought for a moment then responded, yes, she probably could.
AOC was incredulous. She could not believe that she could put up an ad that was demonstrably a lie and Facebook would let her get away with it.
Zuckerberg responded that while lying is bad and putting up an ad with a lie is bad, preventing people from finding out that AOC is a liar who puts up ads that lie would also be bad. According to Hot Air, he added, “In most cases in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves.”
If AOC had any self-awareness, she must have felt a chill down to her marrow. The way social media works, or is supposed to when not interfered with, is that people can post what they want to, within certain easy to understand guidelines. For instance, threats of violence, doxing, and other unacceptable behavior are and should be forbidden.
So, AOC can claim that migrant detention centers are being run like Nazi-era concentration camps, with women being forced to drink out of toilets. However, people who know better can call her out for the lie, even posting evidence to the contrary. Eventually, good speech crowds out bad speech, and most people achieve some insights into Ocasio-Cortez’s character and her tendency to say and post things that are not true.
It should be reiterated that social media has, in the past, censored conservative posts and suspended or even banned conservative users, citing vaguely defined terms of service. However, if one reads his statements correctly, Zuckerberg is promising to reform these practices and make Facebook a marketplace of free expression.
Hot Air, exercising its right to free speech, offered a start conclusion. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had five minutes to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today and she did her best to create a gotcha moment but ultimately just came off like a snotty socialist looking to silence other people’s speech.”