Today a fascinating article by Politico came out which focused on Facebook and more specifically the conversations that Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has been having with prominent right wing personalities within the USA.
The article mentions that after accusations that some members of Facebook’s team were deliberately removing or not promoting content from right wing sites, Facebook conducted an audit into the matter and since then Zuckerberg has been meeting with prominent conservatives to discuss the matter.
Zuckerbeg has according to the article met with people such as Ben Shapiro and Brent Bozell, and has even invited these people to his house in California for discussions. All fair and decent, who better to talk to in regards to matters on free speech than the people who write on it for a living.
However, the article raises a valid concern that some on the left of American politics have about these meetings. Primarily that Zuckerberg is not doing this in good faith, and is actually meeting with all of these people to avoid coming down on the wrong side of President Trump.
This is largely because as the article mentions President Trump as often tweeted about doing something about any social media company that censors conservatives. Consequently, one could see the merit in an argument that Facebook has over-corrected in its course correction and is now focusing exclusively on right wing voices, to the detriment of all else.
Indeed, as the article notes, Democrats in Congress have sent communication to Facebook asking whether they are taking the right steps to prepare for the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election and other elections that are part of that day. And whether or not enough is being done to counter fake news and disinformation.
The over arching feeling according to the article is that, many on the left feel Facebook is not doing enough and that calls to break it up are warranted, due to the threat it poses to democracy and their ability to get their message across.
Ultimately, I think that Facebook is doing what any business would do in its position. It is trying to protect itself from any outside force that would seek to destroy it or reduce its power. That’s a fair tactic, and one that might work if Donald Trump gets elected again in 2020.
However, if he does not Zuckerberg will have to pivot to the left once more, something that might be more natural to him, given where he is based. But, it might not have quite the impact he is hoping for, especially with someone such as Elizabeth Warren who is a very keen proponent for breaking up the big tech companies.
Furthermore, I do also wonder whether the complaints that the left have with what Facebook is doing would be quite so prominent with Zuckerberg was courting them and not the right. Given the general hypocrisy in US politics, I think no.