Mark Zuckerberg and Conservative Ideals

 

The hassling of Zuckerberg rankled until I was compelled to write a political post, something I have rarely done in almost a decade on Facebook. It’s been up for 15 minutes as of this writing. I foresee either regretting the post, or having it panned. Or both.

There is a Facebook-related issue that is bothering me, so I will opine on Facebook. I have only a surface knowledge of the concerns for which Mark Zuckerberg underwent Senate questioning. What I find disturbing is the optics of hauling in for grilling this private citizen who happens to own a hugely successful venture. In listening to some of the proceedings, I felt like senators were pandering to the public by addressing Zuckerberg as if he were a criminal over a couple of points: a.) a data harvesting practice that I’m sure is widespread over the Internet, and not just a Facebook problem; and b.) an alleged favoring of the left side of the political spectrum in censoring or promoting posts.

Now, Zuckerberg is a key figure, and maybe the public is benefiting from an exploration of Internet-related problems. But it didn’t need to come across as if Zuckerberg were a criminal from the outset. As far as data harvesting, I do agree that this is likely a problem. We are in a new era of Internet commerce, and I think that over time, we will adjust as far as regulation, privacy settings, individual awareness, etc. I agree that Zuckerberg could offer helpful information to aid us going forward. Questioning him should have been presented as a request for partnering with his fellow citizens in finding a solution to data-stealing thieves, privacy issues, and more. Facebook settings should be clear and user-friendly for setting up the exact FB experience that we want, and we may need more immediate notifications in cases where more than general personal data is being farmed.

As far as the taking of general information for the purposes of advertising and marketing, I think that if we don’t like it, there are a couple of solutions: 1. Don’t use Facebook; or 2. Publicize the issue until businesses have to change their model to stay viable. Bringing to bear the force of the law on everything we don’t like can cause unintended consequences. For instance, regulation of minutia on Facebook could bog down small businesses. We have many other options before we pile on even more new laws.

In regards to promoting leftist views and helping them to trend, first I’m not surprised, as there probably are many leftists in FB’s employ. A mainly conservative company would promote conservative views. That is their right, as they own the company, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Second, I’ve not seen much evidence of conservative views squashed on FB. I see memes, quotes, and discussion from all spheres of political thought. Third, a wonderful thing about this country is that we conservatives are free to start our own version of FB, and if we make a superior product, we’ll attract customers and be successful, and be able to promote any views we want. That’s how it works.

To be clear, Mark Zuckerberg is probably not an angel. But I did not think the bearing or style of the senators in questioning him was just to him or productive for the country.

 

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    You are a practical voice in the wilderness, Sawatdeeka. Political pandering to the public can be really obnoxious, especially when the panderers don’t know what they’re talking about. Although I suspect that Zuckerberg is up to mischief that I wouldn’t like, he is not a criminal. But just in case, I left Facebook long ago. I’ll be very interested to see the kind of response you get. Good for you! 

    • #1
  2. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    You are a practical voice in the wilderness, Sawatdeeka. Political pandering to the public can be really obnoxious, especially when the panderers don’t know what they’re talking about. Although I suspect that Zuckerberg is up to mischief that I wouldn’t like, he is not a criminal. But just in case, I left Facebook long ago. I’ll be very interested to see the kind of response you get. Good for you!

    Thank you, Susan. We need principled consistency, even with a powerful conservative politician questioning a leftist business owner. 

    • #2
  3. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Also, using political power and position against those we disagree with can come back to bite us. We were on the receiving end of this when Obama wanted to exclude Fox News. 

    • #3
  4. Terry Mott Member
    Terry Mott
    @TerryMott

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Also, using political power and position against those we disagree with can come back to bite us. We were on the receiving end of this when Obama wanted to exclude Fox News.

    Should Democrats using political power and position against those they disagree with come back to bite them?

    If so, how, if this isn’t the proper way?

    BTW, in principle, I agree with your post, but not to the point of unilateral disarmament.

    • #4
  5. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Also, using political power and position against those we disagree with can come back to bite us. We were on the receiving end of this when Obama wanted to exclude Fox News.

    Should Democrats using political power and position against those they disagree with come back to bite them?

    If so, how, if this isn’t the proper way?

    BTW, in principle, I agree with your post, but not to the point of unilateral disarmament.

    I see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure of the answer, except to say that contradicting our principles or applauding those who do won’t help us get our point across. 

    • #5
  6. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I share your concern about the likely malevolent effects of regulating social media and other types of Internet companies…and also agree that the tone of Congressional hearings of this sort is often bullying and pompous, with much heat and little light.  But when you say:  

    “In regards to promoting leftist views and helping them to trend, first I’m not surprised, as there probably are many leftists in FB’s employ. A mainly conservative company would promote conservative views. That is their right, as they own the company, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

    …I’m not sure who you mean by ‘they’, butFB is a publicly-traded company owned by its shareholders;  Zuckerberg owns about 29% of  it.  He does not have a right to do *anything he wants* with it:  first, he has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the interests of the shareholders, and second, he must be guided by the laws governing political contributions if the company effectively makes contributions in kind to a particular candidate.  Which they may have done in the case of Hillary Clinton.

     

    • #6
  7. ST Inactive
    ST
    @SimonTemplar

    Think Bob Marley wrote a song about this.  It was called No Facebook No Cry.

    • #7
  8. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    David Foster (View Comment):

    …I’m not sure who you mean by ‘they’, butFB is a publicly-traded company owned by its shareholders; Zuckerberg owns about 29% of it. He does not have a right to do *anything he wants* with it: first, he has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the interests of the shareholders, and second, he must be guided by the laws governing political contributions if the company effectively makes contributions in kind to a particular candidate. Which they may have done in the case of Hillary Clinton.

    This is an important piece of information. However, if this is the case then publicly traded conservative organizations need to be held to the same standards.

     

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    A lot of people saw a neuro-atypical guy being bullied by the popular kids for being a weirdo.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpLGLyag9P4

    • #9
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I think Facebook started out innocently enough as did Google – but they have grown into a powerful force that is at the forefront of driving certain agendas by limiting some thought while promoting others – so its not an equal playing field for all.  If they stated they were left leaning and limited some forums, that might be different, but they don’t.  Just like Google does in their searches.  The questions asked by Senator Ted Cruz were important. 

    The data mining and compromising your security on line is another big issue.  Both are very irresponsible.  

    • #10
  11. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I’ve never been on Facebook.  I only saw a little of the Congressional hearing, but I’ve seen enough of them in the past to know the pattern.  The point of a high profile hearing is not to ask questions that you do not know the answers to.  The point is to swagger on TV and show your constituents what a tough guy you are for chewing out someone who is a public enemy in the minds of some of those constituents.

    On Fox Business News I heard a great comment about this hearing.  To paraphrase, “Isn’t this the same Congress who learned about all the illegitimate spying our government does on it’s own citizens, then authorized them to do even more?  Who the hell are they to chew out Facebook over privacy concerns?”

    • #11
  12. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    I’m not sure we completely grasp the shear power Facebook, Google, Twitter and other giant tech corporations have over our lives. During the hearings it came to light that Facebook tracks even those who’ve never signed up or who’ve terminated their membership. Googles power is undoubtedly greater still. Twitter is a vast wasteland where lives are destroyed and human relationships are poisoned–all in pursuit of wealth. 

    And consider this: Legislation over transgender bathroom policy in Arizona, Indiana, and North Caroline was all but stopped through economic extortion by corporations who threatened to pull out of those states unless they all but gutted legislation passed  through democratic means. That should terrify a democratic citizenry, but no one stepped in to stop it. The leaders in those states really had no choice but to knuckle under or risk economic devastation. That’s power on a scale never seen in history–and there is no means to stop it. Democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies when huge organizations can upend it without firing a shot.

    There was a time when conservatives feared any institution that gained unfettered power. Now this is excused with “well, they are private entities so they can do whatever they want with there wealth.” That evidently includes keeping a constant eye on us, targeting our weaknesses, and enslaving us to our unchecked desires. Prior to John Locke and other heroes of liberty, the key to real freedom was in overcoming the passions and temptations that enslaved men in vice. Now the only freedom is freedom of choice which is, by definition, value free. The internet in general, and tech companies in particular use natural human weakness to suck us in by feeding us full of trivialities which just makes us dumber, as Nicholas Carr has shown. We are living in an unreal world run by unaccountable men and women who are happy to suck us in in order to expand their immeasurable wealth. 

    There may not be a governmental solution, but perhaps we should been a bit skeptical that the free market will solves this problem.

    • #12
  13. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    I’m not sure we completely grasp the shear power Facebook, Google, Twitter and other giant tech corporations have over our lives. During the hearings it came to light that Facebook tracks even those who’ve never signed up or who’ve terminated their membership. Googles power is undoubtedly greater still. Twitter is a vast wasteland where lives are destroyed and human relationships are poisoned–all in pursuit of wealth.

    And consider this: Legislation over transgender bathroom policy in Arizona, Indiana, and North Caroline was all but stopped through economic extortion by corporations who threatened to pull out of those states unless they all but gutted legislation passed through democratic means. That should terrify a democratic citizenry, but no one stepped in to stop it. The leaders in those states really had no choice but to knuckle under or risk economic devastation. That’s power on a scale never seen in history–and there is no means to stop it. Democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies when huge organizations can upend it without firing a shot.

    There was a time when conservatives feared any institution that gained unfettered power. Now this is excused with “well, they are private entities so they can do whatever they want with there wealth.” That evidently includes keeping a constant eye on us, targeting our weaknesses, and enslaving us to our unchecked desires. Prior to John Locke and other heroes of liberty, the key to real freedom was in overcoming the passions and temptations that enslaved men in vice. Now the only freedom is freedom of choice which is, by definition, value free. The internet in general, and tech companies in particular use natural human weakness to suck us in by feeding us full of trivialities which just makes us dumber, as Nicholas Carr has shown. We are living in an unreal world run by unaccountable men and women who are happy to suck us in in order to expand their immeasurable wealth.

    There may not be a governmental solution, but perhaps we should been a bit skeptical that the free market will solves this problem.

    Trading one master in for another… That’s what this is.

    Free Market and Capitalism and Private Enterprise, Consumerism and Materialism are our new masters.

    • #13
  14. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    David Foster (View Comment):
    he must be guided by the laws governing political contributions if the company effectively makes contributions in kind to a particular candidate. Which they may have done in the case of Hillary Clinton.

    A case can be made that those laws are unconstitutional.

    • #14
  15. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    sawatdeeka: In regards to promoting leftist views and helping them to trend, first I’m not surprised, as there probably are many leftists in FB’s employ. A mainly conservative company would promote conservative views. That is their right, as they own the company, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Second, I’ve not seen much evidence of conservative views squashed on FB. I see memes, quotes, and discussion from all spheres of political thought. Third, a wonderful thing about this country is that we conservatives are free to start our own version of FB, and if we make a superior product, we’ll attract customers and be successful, and be able to promote any views we want. That’s how it works.

    I posted the following a week or so ago, and it’s still true:

    So I assume you either don’t think FB is a monopoly or you don’t recognize the validity of the Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890.

    You must also believe that FB is a “neutral public forum”, entitled to immunity from liability under the Communications Decency Act. FB, by law, can only remove content they deem objectionable, while retaining their immunity to liability under CDA, if they are a “neutral public forum”.

    Given the pattern that Cruz pointed out of FB removing only conservative speech, do you think FB is in compliance with CDA?

    Finally, Obama 2012 campaign staffer, Carol Davidsen, tweeted about how “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized what we were doing.”

    She also said “they (FB) were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

    This could be interpreted as an in-kind contribution with value obviously greater than the legal limit.

    These are credible allegations of lawbreaking. Do you recognize these laws? Should laws be enforced?

    • #15
  16. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    he must be guided by the laws governing political contributions if the company effectively makes contributions in kind to a particular candidate. Which they may have done in the case of Hillary Clinton.

    A case can be made that those laws are unconstitutional.

    Then make the case in the appropriate court. Until then, law is law. I also hope anyone who would make the argument you’re making would extend the same courtesy to Donald Trump when discussions of in kind contributions in the form of lawyer-made payoffs to former lovers come up.

    • #16
  17. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    he must be guided by the laws governing political contributions if the company effectively makes contributions in kind to a particular candidate. Which they may have done in the case of Hillary Clinton.

    A case can be made that those laws are unconstitutional.

    Then make the case in the appropriate court. Until then, law is law. I also hope anyone who would make the argument you’re making would extend the same courtesy to Donald Trump when discussions of in kind contributions in the form of lawyer-made payoffs to former lovers come up.

    Of course I would.

    • #17
  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    IMO, this is a misreading of the situation. Mark Zuckerberg needed these hearings — the more bullying the better. Facebook was being damaged by this revelation and, as we should know by now, the best way to regain your status is to be somebody’s victim — preferably a white conservative Christian male somebody (Ted Cruz obliged).

    I recommend you listen to Andrew Klavan’s show about this. Zuckerberg’s lawyers are losing their minds because he opened Facebook’s deep pockets up to massive litigation by claiming that Facebook is responsible for posted content. This makes Facebook a publisher rather than an open forum. Also, there’s an audio compilation of Zuckerberg facing similar questions for similar issues which occurred in other internet endeavors dating back to his college days (might have been the Klavan show where I heard it). He’s no lamb led to slaughter — he’s an overconfident, arrogant, foolish leftist. But, I repeat.

    P.S. Ben Shapiro has some worthy thoughts, too.

    • #18
  19. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Bloodthirsty: “You must also believe that FB is a “neutral public forum”, entitled to immunity from liability under the Communications Decency Act. FB, by law, can only remove content they deem objectionable, while retaining their immunity to liability under CDA, if they are a “neutral public forum”.”

    That was really the object of Cruz’s testimony and questioning. I do not think, btw, that  Cruz’s questioning was all that clear and to the point.  It is not whether Facebook has committed a crime.  The point  is whether going forward that they should be entitled to immunity from liability under then Communications Decency Act  Section 230 or some revision to it.  

    From the Electronic Frontier Foundation website: “Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do. The protected intermediaries include not only regular Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also a range of “interactive computer service providers,” including basically any online service that publishes third-party content.”

    The present act is vague about who or what should be considered a protected publisher.  The act appears to intend to protect ” Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also a range of “interactive computer service providers,” . There is not  a mention of a “neutral public forum” that I can tell. 

    That said, I believe Cruz and many others want some sort of effective assurance that those given this liability immunity would strive and largely achieve neutrality as an interactive computer service provider. Facebook has achieved concentrated monopoly power, and has clearly abused it’s power to influence public opinion. In far too many places, organizations and people on the Left are trying and more often than not succeeding in shutting down public opinion. This cannot be allowed to continue.

     Zuckerberg was very evasive about “questions about Facebook’s seemingly extremely biased algorithm for detecting trending news stories, and about its selective, even capricious enforcement of its own rules, largely against conservatives, “.  In some effective restrictions on Facebook’s bias are not put into place, the next best alternative is to break up their monopoly.

    • #19
  20. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    I’ve never been on Facebook. I only saw a little of the Congressional hearing, but I’ve seen enough of them in the past to know the pattern. The point of a high profile hearing is not to ask questions that you do not know the answers to. The point is to swagger on TV and show your constituents what a tough guy you are for chewing out someone who is a public enemy in the minds of some of those constituents.

    On Fox Business News I heard a great comment about this hearing. To paraphrase, “Isn’t this the same Congress who learned about all the illegitimate spying our government does on it’s own citizens, then authorized them to do even more? Who the hell are they to chew out Facebook over privacy concerns?”

    I have never been cool with Congress summoning citizens. That power is properly reserved for the courts. 

    The more so since they abuse that power by mistreating said citizens. 

    Obviously (to a degree) this doesn’t apply to citizens who are also military, would-be appointees of the advise-and-consent variety and probably most government workers in general. 

    It is still sickening to see these popinjays grind free men down using my government. 

    • #20
  21. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    TBA (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    I’ve never been on Facebook. I only saw a little of the Congressional hearing, but I’ve seen enough of them in the past to know the pattern. The point of a high profile hearing is not to ask questions that you do not know the answers to. The point is to swagger on TV and show your constituents what a tough guy you are for chewing out someone who is a public enemy in the minds of some of those constituents.

    On Fox Business News I heard a great comment about this hearing. To paraphrase, “Isn’t this the same Congress who learned about all the illegitimate spying our government does on it’s own citizens, then authorized them to do even more? Who the hell are they to chew out Facebook over privacy concerns?”

    I have never been cool with Congress summoning citizens. That power is properly reserved for the courts.

    The more so since they abuse that power by mistreating said citizens.

    Obviously (to a degree) this doesn’t apply to citizens who are also military, would-be appointees of the advise-and-consent variety and probably most government workers in general.

    It is still sickening to see these popinjays grind free men down using my government.

    Lois Lerner says hi.

    • #21
  22. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    The hearings weren’t about Zuckerberg.  The hearings were about votes.  And how to get more of them.

    Just like the words at the end of the hokey-pokey song:  That’s what it’s all about.

    • #22
  23. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Now this is excused with “well, they are private entities so they can do whatever they want with there wealth.”

     

    –That’s the kind of libertarian nonsense that I think is bull crap.  Which is why I am not one of them.  I have no problem using government power to crush inside threats like oh Communism and preventing them from joining the government.  Or using the state to break up trusts and monopolies or using the Tariff to protect key industries.  Like all those rare earth companies Bill Clinton sold off in the 90s.

     

    –Conservatism is not a suicide pact.  I don’t understand why we continue to think it should be.  

     

    –We have the power to regulate them in a bunch of different ways.  They have duties to there customers and if they want to go around and say we are a ‘left based organization that hates conservatives and you do not have to use our platform nyah’ sure.  But if they go around saying they are neutral and later lie about it, or use there platform to screw over there own customers and clients, the government can totally step in and go after them for it.

     

    –I totally support the Prager U lawsuit for similar reasons.  Youtube has refused to live up to the terms of its contract with its clients.  

     

    • #23
  24. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    I’m not sure we completely grasp the shear power Facebook, Google, Twitter and other giant tech corporations have over our lives. During the hearings it came to light that Facebook tracks even those who’ve never signed up or who’ve terminated their membership. Googles power is undoubtedly greater still. Twitter is a vast wasteland where lives are destroyed and human relationships are poisoned–all in pursuit of wealth.

    And consider this: Legislation over transgender bathroom policy in Arizona, Indiana, and North Caroline was all but stopped through economic extortion by corporations who threatened to pull out of those states unless they all but gutted legislation passed through democratic means. That should terrify a democratic citizenry, but no one stepped in to stop it. The leaders in those states really had no choice but to knuckle under or risk economic devastation. That’s power on a scale never seen in history–and there is no means to stop it. Democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies when huge organizations can upend it without firing a shot.

    There was a time when conservatives feared any institution that gained unfettered power. Now this is excused with “well, they are private entities so they can do whatever they want with there wealth.” That evidently includes keeping a constant eye on us, targeting our weaknesses, and enslaving us to our unchecked desires. Prior to John Locke and other heroes of liberty, the key to real freedom was in overcoming the passions and temptations that enslaved men in vice. Now the only freedom is freedom of choice which is, by definition, value free. The internet in general, and tech companies in particular use natural human weakness to suck us in by feeding us full of trivialities which just makes us dumber, as Nicholas Carr has shown. We are living in an unreal world run by unaccountable men and women who are happy to suck us in in order to expand their immeasurable wealth.

    There may not be a governmental solution, but perhaps we should been a bit skeptical that the free market will solves this problem.

    Your comment could be a whole post – well said.  Europe seems to be taking more issue with Facebook and Google than we are. I saw on news show where a computer programmer who deals with high levels of security for various companies etc. erased key passwords and other sensitive data as was normal procedure and he went in and found that Google had not deleted anything, but had saved all of it going back to 2014!

    Also your comment speaks to the rapidness by which inflammatory info can spread across the world in minutes with serious outcomes, so it’s not just sharing selfies with your friends.

    • #24
  25. Michael Collins Member
    Michael Collins
    @MichaelCollins

    Unsk (View Comment):
    From the Electronic Frontier Foundation website: “Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.

    This raises a question.   Does anyone know whether Facebook itself is liable under defamation laws?  I’ve never heard of them being sued for libel, but maybe that is just my own ignorance.   Local newspapers certainly are subject to the laws against libel , even if the alleged libel occurs in a published letter to the editor.  If Facebook has some kinds of legal immunity which other publishers don’t, then it seems only fair that the law should require them to be a “neutral forum”.   

    Another question:  Suppose the owner of a supermarket is a good Democrat, and gives permission to his fellow Democrats to distribute campaign literature in the parking lot.  At one time I know this turned the parking lot into a “public forum”, which meant he could not refuse permission to other groups who desired to distribute the same kind of literature -even if he disagreed with their stance.  As far as I know, this is still the state of the law -even though the parking lot is private property.  Does the same standard apply to Facebook?  What are the legal standards and precedents that currently apply?

    • #25

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