Facebook is Trying to Control Election Information
Facebook will prohibit new political ads during the final week of the 2020 election campaign, announced CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week.
The social media site is also planning to flag false claims of victory by either candidate before results are finalized, limit the number of messages that can be sent through its Messenger platform, and remove posts claiming that people will catch COVID if they vote in person. On Election Day, Facebook users will be urged to visit the site’s “voting information center” to see results sourced from Reuters.
Zuckerberg claims these policy changes are designed to reduce the spread of misinformation, but what he’s really doing is restricting information to the site’s 2.7 billion monthly active users during the most important week of the race.
“In the last seven days of the most important election in our history, President Trump will be banned from defending himself on the largest platform in America,” argued Trump campaign spokesperson Samantha Zager. “When millions of voters will be making their decisions, the President will be silenced by the Silicon Valley Mafia.”
Not surprisingly, Joe Biden’s campaign made no comment on Zuckerberg’s announcement.
“This election is not going to be business as usual,” said Zuckerberg. “I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the county.”
The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting increase in absentee voting are expected to cause delays, but it is not Zuckerberg’s responsibility to interfere.
“We’re going to take this seriously and make sure that people aren’t declaring victory and saying that any kind of ongoing counting of votes is evidence of a rigged election or anything like that,” added Zuckerberg. “I think that that would be dangerous…And I think it could risk increasing, you know, people getting into the streets and civil unrest after the election, which I think would be very problematic.”
The image-sharing platform Pinterest (which already prohibits political ads) is also making moves to limit what information is available to voters ahead of the election. On Thursday, the site announced it would block ads to voters searching for election-related terms like “Trump,” “Biden,” and “vote.”
These dangerous moves by Facebook and Pinterest will only strengthen Trump’s concerns about election integrity and the widespread suppression of Republican votes. Earlier this week, he posted a Facebook message urging supporters to vote by mail and in person to test the flawed mail-in balloting system. His post was immediately flagged with this message from Facebook: “Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year.”
Author’s Note: Social media sites should not have the authority to control election information. Mark Zuckerberg is an egomaniac who believes his opinions are more important than free speech and his efforts to restrict information must be stopped.
Zuckerberg is definitely an egomaniac. He does not have any right to decide what information voters get to see before the election. That’s when people needs them most data they can get to make educated decisions. His interference is far worse than anything Russia or China has, is, or would do. He needs to butt out of trying to control the world. There are already enough idiots doing that.
It’s not really about anyone’s imaginary rights here, is it? If Zuckerberg has executive control over Facebook policy and content, then, as it’s not a public corporation in the same sense as PBS or the Post Office, then he can exercise that control right up to the day that Facebook’s board orders him to adopt different tactics or simply turns him out.
I think we’re about to find out over the next decades about large corporations like Google and Facebook and their control over public media. Such issues will have to result in suits brought before the Supreme Court. Anti-monopoly legislation was responsible for breaking up much of the power huge companies had in the late XIXth century; we’re set to begin visiting a similar version of that in the information age.
In the meantime, sadly, Mr. Zuckerberg has precisely this much power to influence or interfere in the elections just as newspaper and other media barons have exercised various degrees of control over the past 100-150 years.