from 21st Century Wire:
With each passing day, Silicon Valley’s corporate digital monopolies are realizing the story line of the recent Hollywood dystopian classic, The Circle, where a few tech firms appoint themselves as the rightful guardians of reality, by controlling speech, political discourse, and even elections. They do this not because they have a higher moral mission, or that they possess some superior ideological framework for society, but rather, they seize control of the key modes of social communication simply because they can. This is raw, unadulterated power.
That dark Hollywood vision just came one step closer to becoming reality this week after Facebook declared itself to be a ‘publisher’ rather than a network platform, thus reserving the right to censor or de-platform anyone it wants to.
OUT OF TOUCH: Many now believe that through the accumulation too much power, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost touch with the reality in American and global society, prompting calls that it’s time to break up what has now become an authoritarian digital monopoly.
There are other efforts by government and civil liberties groups to push back against Facebook’s authoritarian policies and political gate-keeping.
Fox News reports…
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s handling of a fact-checking controversy involving pro-life group Live Action was biased.
The embattled tech executive discussed the issue during a meeting on Thursday with Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a frequent critic of Big Tech, on a host of topics, including privacy and allegations of anti-conservative discrimination.
“Zuckerberg admitted there “clearly was bias” in the @LiveAction @LilaGraceRose censorship. Said bias is ‘an issue we’ve struggled with for a long time.’” tweeted Hawley, one of several senators who questioned the tech company’s fact-checking systems in a letter to Zuckerberg last week.
Hawley also challenged Zuckerberg to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp, which the company owns, and submit to an independent, third-party audit on censorship. Zuckerberg declined on both counts.
Last month, Live Action was told by Facebook that its fact checkers had marked two videos containing the statement “abortion is never medically necessary” as false. The tech giant also said that Live Action, its links and Rose’s page would now have reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeatedly sharing false news.
The timing of these various challenges is certainly interesting – right as Facebook and its Silicon Valley anti-trust cartel partners are attempting to “cleanse” their platforms of ‘wrong politics’ by banning a host of prominent conservative pundits and outlets in the run-up to the US 2020 Presidential Election.
At the same time they have appeared to undermine the advantage they previously had by keeping their public political positions murky and arbitrary. Now that Facebook has declared that it’s now a ‘publisher’ they can justify censoring or banning whoever they want, but there may be consequences for choosing this tactic. Regarding Facebook’s newfound status, RT International adds:
“Facebook has invoked its free speech right as a publisher, insisting its ability to smear users as extremists is protected, but its legal immunity thus far has rested on a law which protects platforms, not publishers. Which is it?”
“Defining itself as a publisher opens Facebook up to lawsuits for defamation and other liability for the content users publish, something they were previously immunized against. All the lies, personal attacks, and smears launched by users going forward can now be laid at Facebook’s feet.”
“Whatever they say – platform or publisher – their words will haunt them legally from now on.”
RT also rightly points out that platforms like Google and Twitter claim protection from the legal consequences of users’ speech by invoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. However, with this latest court declaration, Facebook can no longer claim Section 230 defense.