• Words Not Enough: Zuckerberg Gives Free Speech Address – But His Company Contradicts It

    Surge Summary: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a spirited address supporting free speech at Georgetown University this week. Unfortunately, his company’s current practices – and even some activity during the speech itself – suggest he doesn’t intend to practice what he is preaching.

    Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed an audience at Georgetown University, extolling the virtues and practical benefits of free speech.

    Bob Cronin of the Newser Staff provides details:

    Zuckerberg was defending Facebook’s decision to not censor lies and misinformation in political ads and content when he stepped to the microphone at Georgetown University, CBS reports. “I am here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression,” he said, per the Wall Street Journal.

    The thirty-five-year-old tech entrepreneur rightly insisted social media’s role – that would include Facebook — is to act as a voice, not a censor. As one of a number of examples he provided he cited the war in Iraq. He noted he was in college when it started, and he believes it might have been avoided if more of those opposed to the effort had been heard.

    That’s not the whole story, however. Zuckerberg’s reflections were not met with uninterrupted acclaim:

    The criticism began before Zuckerberg finished. Reporters weren’t allowed to ask questions, per the AP, and students’ questions were selected by a moderator. News organizations couldn’t film him. Zuckerberg “is the antithesis of free expression,” said a former Georgetown fellow. Facebook’s algorithms ensured that the comments displayed during its livestream were nearly all positive, per the Washington Post.

    In defense of his social media behemoth, Zuckerberg invoked the civil rights struggle, alluding to Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black Lives Matter.

    “This is a profound misreading of the civil rights movement in America,” wrote Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP in the Post. “And a dangerous misunderstanding of the political and digital landscape we now inhabit.” King’s daughter Bernice listened to the speech, then tweeted: “I’d like to help Facebook better understand the challenges #MLK faced from disinformation campaigns launched by politicians. These campaigns created an atmosphere for his assassination.”

    Which is not to mention the wretched censoring – “purges”, shadow-banning, etc. –conservative and Christian organizations have had to endure at the hands of the Menlo Park, CA worldwide social networking service.

    While some may complain Team FB irresponsibly allows false or misleading postings on their site, the bigger problem seems to be banishing the opinions of those who cross whatever are today’s “woke” or “politically correct” lines – be they pro-life, traditional Christian, anti-Democratic Party or conventional conservative pronouncements.

    Zuck’s sentiments broadcast this week, a paen to freedom of speech and expression, were largely heartening to those who value the open sharing of ideas and unhindered exchange of differing viewpoints.

    What’d be really, really neat would be if Mark Zuckerberg’s company actually practiced what its co-founder preached.

    H/T: Bob Cronin/Newser

    Image: Creative Commons; CC by 2.0; https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47721886632_4975e568c4_b.jpg


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