Hating on Facebook
This is about the left not controlling a social media platform. Republicans should not play along.
It is popular these days to hate on Facebook. In fact, Facebook is a flawed company that necessarily must attempt to keep people engaged on its platform and grow as best it can. Some of Facebook’s internal documents that recently leaked show the company’s users are aging and younger potential audiences see Facebook as where the old people go. But Facebook, the website, is more than Facebook.
Facebook is also Instagram, my personal favorite social media platform. I have made more real friendships off Instagram interactions than any other social media platform. I have found more small, upcoming businesses through Instagram than any other platform. Whether I am buying my clothes at Rhone or Mizzen & Main or my kitchen goods at MadeIn or my butcher cleaver at Blanc Creatives — all are small businesses I would have never heard of but for Instagram’s ad algorithm.
Facebook is also WhatsApp, which is the default, secure text messaging platform for most of the world. Everyone I have interviewed who had connections to Afghanistan tells me they get WhatsApp messages from people who need to be rescued. I do not use WhatsApp regularly. I know a ton of people who do.
Unfortunately, Facebook is also the place where your crazy aunt shares her meme about My Pillow Guy restoring Trump to the presidency. Facebook is the place Russians spent $20,000 to convince Hillary Clinton supporters to protest Trump and Trump supporters to protest Hillary Clinton. Facebook has become a neighborhood town square for the old, the stupid, and the angry.
Congressional Democrats are using that latter bit as a way to break up Facebook. They distract from the Democrats’ real complaints about Facebook. Facebook is where conservatives enjoy relative freedom and minimal censorship on social media.
It is true Facebook does censor. Facebook joined other social media platforms in booting off Donald Trump and Alex Jones, for which the right seems intent on joining the left in punishing Facebook. Facebook has been, though is less so now, heavy handed in COVID data that might not be true, some of which turned out to be true. Facebook is not perfect and has tried to walk a finer line than other social media outlets. The result is that Facebook has angered both the right and the left whereas sites like Twitter only anger the right.
By trying to be evenhanded, Facebook is getting beaten up from both sides. One of its solutions was to outsource its moderation to a sort of global supreme court consisting of speech lawyers. The problem is not all speech lawyers are free speech advocates and those lawyers, when the issue came to Donald Trump, passed the buck back to Facebook in a spectacle that did Facebook no PR favors. While I think Facebook should have turned off President Trump’s account to let him cool down, they should turn him back on now.
The reality though is pretty straightforward.
Twitter routinely bans conservatives and punishes conservatives for conservative statements. On both Facebook and Twitter, I noted that Laurel Hubbard, the Olympic weightlifter from New Zealand, is a man. Twitter turned off my account for saying so. Facebook did nothing. On Twitter, I joked about Elizabeth Warren offering up the WAMPUM Act (Wrecking American Prosperity Under Marxism). Twitter suspended me for hateful conduct. I posted the same at Facebook and nothing happened.
This is really the default for social media. At Twitter, my followers are routinely purged. A few months ago I had over 230,000 followers. Twitter has wiped out 30,000 of them. Every time my Twitter followers get to about 218,000 followers now, Twitter begins purging them. I am not alone. It happens frequently to conservatives and rarely to progressives.
Twitter editorializes for the left in its “Explore” tab where it not only smears conservatives but has more than once put up mentions designed to cause harassment of conservatives. The company continually makes excuses while continually trashing conservatives and uses its editorializing of trends to mobilize left-wing mobs.
At Facebook, the top information with which people engage comes from Ben Shapiro, the Daily Wire, Fox News, and other conservative websites. The New York Times’ tech writer routinely highlights this to blast Facebook.
Progressives consider Facebook a center of disinformation because older voters, who are also the most likely voters to vote, use Facebook to share information, oftentimes making Democrats look bad in the process.
This week in Washington, Frances Haugen is testifying before Congress. It comes after a multiweek media campaign to smear Facebook. The media, you should note, is no honest broker here. They tried to rely on Facebook to grow the newspaper business. Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize interactions between actual friends and the newspaper business nearly went bankrupt. The media has, ever since, nursed a grudge against Facebook for the media companies’ own incompetence. Now it is payback time.
Haugen is a progressive. She supports far-left politicians and Democrats, donating to candidates like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. She is working with Obama Administration officials and progressive outside groups. She too believes Facebook is harmful. Why? Use the media coverage of her testimony to understand why.
Facebook should be sued for letting conservatives post untruthful information came from Don Lemon. Facebook allowed the “big lie” about the stolen election to continue came from Alyson Camerota at CNN.
A decade ago, progressives were writing fawning coverage of Facebook for helping Barack Obama connect to new voters. Five years ago, Donald Trump took what Obama did and duplicated his success. Facebook offered both the Clinton team and the Trump team internal experts to help them use the platform. The Trump team took advantage of it. The Clinton team did not.
To this day, progressives believe Facebook allowed the Russians to help Trump steal the election. They believe Facebook should censor conservatives. They believe Facebook allows conservative disinformation to spread.
In my personal experience as a talk radio show host, the vast array of conservatives who send me videos with disinformation send me YouTube videos. But YouTube claims to ban all disinformation on COVID, etc. It really isn’t. But YouTube virtue signals for the left.
Facebook has problems and I disagree with some of the ways they have turned off right-of-center accounts. But Facebook has also turned off left-of-center accounts, unlike YouTube, Twitter, etc. It is a flawed company with a regular interface that is too complex for me to want to regularly navigate, so I tend not to.
Therein lies the point — one can choose not to use Facebook. But because so many conservatives have chosen to use it, Democrats want to shut it down and tear it apart. That is what these hearings are about. Republicans who are joining in should be wary of the pile on. There are legitimate issues about children engaging on social media and addictive behaviors. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that is what all these hearings are really about. Facebook may be where a kid finds disinformation. But it is Snapchat and elsewhere where the kids are trading underage nudes of themselves and bullying each other. The Democrats are not so vexxed about that.
Democrats want to bring back the fairness doctrine to silence conservative talk radio and they want to regulate Facebook to silence conservative voters. Republicans should not go along with the effort. This hearing may be packed in concern trolling about legitimate problems, but it is really about one thing and one thing only — Democrats do not like that a social media platform allows conservatives a platform relatively free of corporate harassment. Democrats think they should control social media and are angry they have so many progressives embedded within Facebook, but still do not control it.