by Mark Epstein December 23, 2016 4:00 AM Stop pressuring Facebook to suppress the diversity of its users’ political opinions. In 2007, the New York Times editorial board railed against Verizon for preventing an abortion-rights group from sending mass text messages. It warned against “the potential threat to free speech . . . as communications migrate from old-fashioned telephone lines, TV broadcasts and printing presses to digital networks controlled by unregulated private companies,” noting that “if newspapers were delivered over mobile phones, a company could simply cut them off because it did not like a particular article.” Though there was no government censorship, “our democracy is built on basic freedoms not being left to . . . individual companies.” Sixty-two percent of Americans receive news from social media, and two-thirds of those receive it from Facebook. Yet now the Times demands that powerful digital networks cut off articles it does not like. In “Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News,” the editors argue that “blocking misinformation will help protect the company’s brand and credibility” and, as a warning, cite the supposed financial consequences of Twitter’s failure to eliminate “hate speech.” Many traditional media outlets and prominent Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, joined the crusade against the supposed scourge of fake news on Facebook. Last week, the company partially acquiesced. Unfortunately, this will lead to more political tug-of-war over the platform, and it raises serious legal issues. Facebook users can now flag articles as fake. Then certified “fact-checkers” will evaluate them. Facebook will add a “disputed by 3rd party Fact-Checkers” disclaimer to posts deemed false. Conservatives have long accused these fact-checkers of liberal bias, and their new powers exacerbate these concerns. Fake news is just the latest political spat involving social media. Former Facebook contractors claimed they shadow-banned conservative articles from trending, and Twitter faces irreconcilable accusations of both political censorship and facilitating hate speech. Ultimately, though, these debates revolve on whether social media are neutral platforms. Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to this question is evolving. In October, he insisted that Facebook was “a tech company, not a media company.” However, on Wednesday, he described the platform as neither a traditional media nor technology company, adding, “We feel responsible for how it’s used. We don’t write the news that people read on the platform. But at the same time we also know that we do a lot more than just distribute news.” This view is at odds with Senator John Thune, who has argued that “any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor
Read more at: nationalreview.com/
All Original Content Copyright** ©**2017 hnewswire.com All Rights Reserved.