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EDITORIAL: Facebook should face competition, not regulation

By: The Gazette editorial board
April 13, 2018 Updated: April 13, 2018 at 8:25 am
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photo - Photo: Conservative101.com
Photo: Conservative101.com 

Facebook censors inadvertently made Diamond and Silk a household name this week. Censorship typically defeats the censors.

As frequent guests on Fox News, the sisters took their case directly to the people. They told how Facebook silenced their conservative voices by declining to distribute their videos. That's why Congress grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the women during congressional hearings called to investigate for-profit data mining.

In an explanation to Diamond and Silk last week, Facebook claimed the duo's pro-Trump videos are dangerous.

"The Policy team has come to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community. This decision is final and it is not appeal-able in any way."

Got that? Videos that champion a border wall, tax cuts, less regulation, and other presidential policies are "unsafe" and cannot be shared on a social media platform increasingly suspected of monopolistic practices.

Of course, nothing the two former liberal Democrats say in their theatrical diatribes poses danger to the community. Rather, their videos challenge the liberal views of Facebook employees, who use their positions to promote policies and politicians they like, and to silence those they oppose. The last thing they want are two entertaining black women championing the other side.

Conservative Facebook users have long complained about the company deleting posts. Some remain on Facebook feeds without the traditional "share" button that allows users to boost distribution.

Two months before Diamond and Silk exposed Facebook, Gazette sister publication Colorado Politics told of Colorado's "Conservative Momma" — an actor who makes comedic conservative videos for social media.

She produced a video last fall about standing for the national anthem. After it went viral, generating millions of views, she says Facebook and Google subsidiary YouTube took action. Facebook throttled back distribution of subsequent videos, and YouTube said she could no longer monetize videos with ads.

"My videos that once had Millions and Hundreds of Thousands of views, now seeing only a couple thousand," Conservative Momma told Colorado Politics in an email. "My voice and the voice of many others silenced... A little over a month ago, I started a Live show, hoping that perhaps Live video could not be suppressed, it has been. Now only about 4% of my page sees my videos."

The First Amendment forbids government from censoring speech, no matter how out of fashion it may be. That law has no effect on Facebook, YouTube and other Internet giants. They are private companies. Members of Congress can berate Zuckerberg on camera, but can do little about Facebook's censorship habits without violating his constitutional right to determine what the company will and will not publish and distribute.

Conservatives are the last people who should ask government to intervene in big social media's muzzling of their voices. They oppose government interference in free market affairs. Instead, they should count on competition, digital entrepreneurs, a minimally regulated Internet, and a variety of market forces to serve justice to censors.

As computer science innovator John Gilmore observed, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Watch for rerouting, in the form of new competition.

"A for-profit competitor to Facebook called MeWe emphasizes total privacy and makes its money by offering optional services. MeWe just passed the million-member mark," explained liberal Bandeis University Professor Rubert Kuttner in The Huffington Post.

Whether concerned about data mining or ideologically biased censorship, Americans of all political persuasions are tiring of big social media. Entrepreneurs will rush to the rescue, with alternative platforms users will flock to in droves. In a free society, consumers typically doom nefarious censorship schemes to the scrapheap of failure.

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