Sunday, July 18, 2021

Biden wants Facebook to do more deplatforming

Facebook is caught between two political parties, both of which want to control it and tell it whom to platform; and however it responds will only increase anger at it.

The Government Should Stop Telling Facebook To Suppress COVID-19 'Misinformation' | Reason - Robby Soave:

July 15, 2021 - "The federal government is stepping up its effort to purge the internet of COVID-19 'misinformation.' On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki singled out a dozen specific anti-vaccine Facebook accounts and called on the platform to ban them....

"The federal government is not explicitly ordering tech platforms to take down content. These dictates are essentially strongly-worded suggestions. But you're forgiven if you think Psaki's summary of the report sounded like a command. 'Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts,' she said. 'Posts that would be within their policy for removal often remain up for days, and that's too long. The information spreads too quickly.'

"Psaki was alluding to anti-vaccine content, though the report itself impugns 'medical misinformation' more broadly. Of course, the government itself has spread plenty of 'medical misinformation,' from the early bad guidance on masks to White House coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci's deliberate misstatements about the herd immunity threshold. For months, government health officials treated the lab leak theory of COVID-19's origins as a wild conspiracy theory, and Facebook followed suit: It vigorously censored content that promoted the lab leak theory. That policy was not revised until June.

"Efforts by the government and tech platforms to suppress misinformation have undeniably resulted sometimes in the suppression of information that is ... or could plausibly turn out to be factual. (This has been the case outside the realm of pandemic-related content as well.) New initiatives undertaken by the federal government that would encourage Facebook to be even more heavy-handed with potential misinformation should be met with skepticism: The track record is just not very encouraging.

"The White House's targeting of Facebook should make critics a little sympathetic to Mark Zuckerberg's position. Prominent legislators from both political parties — as well as the current and former presidents — want to aggressively regulate his company if not break it apart entirely. Facebook's CEO must feel tremendous pressure to give federal health bureacrats exactly what they're asking for, or else.

"Instead of defending the rights of private companies to set their own moderation policies independent of whatever the government would like them to do, Republicans are taking this opportunity to further erode Facebook's autonomy. Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) even suggested that the site's submission to the feds renders it an agent of the state.... Hawley is essentially saying that a private company complying with the government becomes a state actor, and thus should be bound to the same restrictions as any other public agency. But Hawley and others are also attempting to punish these same private companies for not doing what [they want]. (In Hawley's case, he wants Facebook to suppress fewer posts.) That's quite a Catch-22: Facebook is in trouble either way."

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