Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Redemption of Mark Zuckerberg?

 

In the shadow of American companies bending to the will of Chinese communists and NBA players, owners and managers practically serving as their mouthpieces, a defense of the American commitment to free speech came from an unlikely place: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Verge reported,

In a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg laid out Facebook’s approach to moderation in terms of an ongoing commitment to free expression — and in one particular section, drew a sharp contrast with Chinese companies that may not share those values.

As Zuckerberg described it, regulators and technologists face the question of “which nation’s values are going to determine what speech is going to be allowed for decades to come,” China or the US. As he laid out Facebook’s commitment to free expression, he also emphasized that those values were already coming under threat from China.

“If another nation’s platform sets the rules,” Zuckerberg said, “our nation’s discourse could be defined by a completely different set of values.”

But while the partisan landscape has grown more fraught for Facebook, Zuckerberg presented the rise of Chinese internet companies as a broader national threat to American free expression:

A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese. We’re beginning to see this in social media too. While our services like WhatsApp are used by protestors and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the US. Is that the internet that we want?

Zuckerberg was likely referring to guidelines presented by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which were obtained by The Guardian last week. As written, the guidelines effectively ban criticism of the Chinese government, and forbid “demonisation or distortion of local or other countries’ history such as May 1998 riots of Indonesia, Cambodian genocide, Tiananmen Square incidents.”

The Left is increasingly frustrated by Facebook’s refusal to “curate” the news that appears on the site:

Liberals were also outraged by this news, broken by Politico recently,

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to talk about issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.

The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. “I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” said one person familiar with the gatherings, which multiple sources have confirmed.

Zuckerberg is willing to break bread with and listen to conservatives, and that is beyond the pale for a rabid progressive Left hell-bent on isolating conservatives at every opportunity. In response to the story, a Democratic frontrunner opened fire on the company:

It’s encouraging seeing Zuckerberg’s stand for free speech and open communication. Hopefully, he’ll stand his ground.

 

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There are 18 comments.

  1. EJHill Podcaster

    Elizabeth Warren: “…and no private company should have this much power in the first place.” No, we wouldn’t anyone but the government to have the complete power of censorship.

    • #1
    • October 22, 2019, at 6:12 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  2. Jon1979 Lincoln

    The woke left has chosen Facebook, out of all the big tech companies, to be the one sacrificed to the volcano to appease the gods, because they still blame Zuckerberg for not shutting down the Russian disinformation sites in 2016 (as well as a lot of conservative Facebook pages), and they still think Trump only won due to Russian collusion, to the point they’ve discounted almost all of the Mueller Report and his testimony to Congress.

    Toss in the fact that Facebook’s already banned in China, and his desire to get the Trump administration to OK his Libra digital currency, and Zuckerberg has more room to maneuver, more to gain and less to lose by being nice to conservative media and having the company stand up to the Chinese. At the same time he’s doing all that, he’s also reportedly assisting Pete Buttigieg with his campaign, so we’re not talking about Mark having downed a box of Red Pills here. He realizes the woke left is hell-bent on taking a social media company down if they can. and it’s going to be his social media company, so he might as well see if he can use that to get some support and favorable public relations on the right side of the aisle.

    • #2
    • October 22, 2019, at 6:51 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. James Gawron Thatcher

    Bethany,

    This is really a good subject to be debated and analyzed to the max. The dangers of abuse on the net from both private companies and totalitarian governments are now palpably real. Can Zuckerberg evolve from a shallow platform hustler interested only in the bottom line to a statesman of the net? Zuckerberg must reject both any internal editorial policy on Facebook’s content plus any outside pressure on him by foreign governments whose totalitarian motive is manifest.

    Can Zuck rise to the occasion and actually be a leader for free speech on the net? If he can it will be his greatest contribution to the information age. If he can’t he is just one more sophisticated hustler on the make.

    Regards,

    Jim

     

    • #3
    • October 22, 2019, at 7:06 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member

    Leftists often contradict themselves. Zuckerberg supported “net neutrality.” Maybe his opinion on that has changed, but it would have similarly surrended the American standard of free expression.

    • #4
    • October 22, 2019, at 8:02 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the redemption of Mark Zuckerberg, at least not yet, but it does show the benefits of his ox getting gored, too.

    • #5
    • October 22, 2019, at 8:14 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Bethany Mandel: a defense of the American commitment to free speech came from an unlikely place: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

    MarkZ only does that because China has better products for all his platforms and he has no chance in the market. I’ll believe he is brave, when MarkZ apologizes to Palmer Luckey, who he crushed for trolling Hillary.

    • #6
    • October 22, 2019, at 8:37 PM PST
    • Like
  7. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    Bethany Mandel:

    The Left is increasingly frustrated by Facebook’s refusal to “curate” the news that appears on the site:

    The Left? Molly Jong-Fast?

    That’s a writer for Bill Kristol’s The Bulwark.

    Wikipedia describes The Bulwark as conservative and neoconservative.

    • #7
    • October 22, 2019, at 8:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. The Reticulator Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: a defense of the American commitment to free speech came from an unlikely place: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

    MarkZ only does that because China has better products for all his platforms and he has no chance in the market. I’ll believe he is brave, when MarkZ apologizes to Palmer Luckey, who he crushed for trolling Hillary.

    I would believe him if he apologizes for interfering in the Russian elections of 2015. 

    • #8
    • October 22, 2019, at 9:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Guruforhire Member

    Skeptical cat is skeptical.

    • #9
    • October 23, 2019, at 2:48 AM PST
    • Like
  10. cirby Member

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel:

    The Left is increasingly frustrated by Facebook’s refusal to “curate” the news that appears on the site:

    The Left? Molly Jong-Fast?

    That’s a writer for Bill Kristol’s The Bulwark.

    Wikipedia describes The Bulwark as conservative and neoconservative.

    And yet, it keeps putting out stories that are from a perspective that’s firmly left-of-center.

    They’re not really conservative – The Bulwark is philosophically anti-Trump, with a veneer or pretending to care about other things.

     

    • #10
    • October 23, 2019, at 3:54 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  11. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    cirby (View Comment):

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel:

    The Left is increasingly frustrated by Facebook’s refusal to “curate” the news that appears on the site:

    The Left? Molly Jong-Fast?

    That’s a writer for Bill Kristol’s The Bulwark.

    Wikipedia describes The Bulwark as conservative and neoconservative.

    And yet, it keeps putting out stories that are from a perspective that’s firmly left-of-center.

    They’re not really conservative – The Bulwark is philosophically anti-Trump, with a veneer or pretending to care about other things.

    Yeah, they like the free speech haters I guess.

    I’ve listened to several episodes of Bill Kristol’s podcast Conversations, and it seems completely sane. 

    Then why is everything else he has touched since 2015 been so completely bat-crazy looney?

    • #11
    • October 23, 2019, at 5:19 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Guruforhire Member

    cirby (View Comment):

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel:

    The Left is increasingly frustrated by Facebook’s refusal to “curate” the news that appears on the site:

    The Left? Molly Jong-Fast?

    That’s a writer for Bill Kristol’s The Bulwark.

    Wikipedia describes The Bulwark as conservative and neoconservative.

    And yet, it keeps putting out stories that are from a perspective that’s firmly left-of-center.

    They’re not really conservative – The Bulwark is philosophically anti-Trump, with a veneer or pretending to care about other things.

     

    Its a propaganda and disinformation site. Just call it what it is. There is no other technically appropriate label.

    • #12
    • October 23, 2019, at 6:12 AM PST
    • Like
  13. Stad Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: It’s encouraging seeing Zuckerberg’s stand for free speech and open communication. Hopefully, he’ll stand his ground.

    Given Zuckerberg’s words and deeds in the past, I’m going to withhold celebrating until I believe him. My gut tells me there’s an ulterior motive involved, and he will always be a “Facebook First” guy . . .

    • #13
    • October 23, 2019, at 6:15 AM PST
    • Like
  14. David Foster Member

    A couple of years ago, Zuckerberg wrote a long philosophical statement. It’s rather jejune, but still interesting. I linked and discussed it here: Zuckerberg as Political and Social Philosopher.

    • #14
    • October 23, 2019, at 6:37 AM PST
    • Like
  15. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Zuckerberg gave an interview a few years ago where he gave his basic position, that if Facebook is to survive and grow it cannot ignore half of the world. He was not going to leave money on the table.

    Good capitalist that he is.

    He has been making some effort to work with conservatives and be better. Now how effective he has been is a matter of debate.

    But I would rather he try and fail at it, than deliberately try and destroy us like Google is.

    Also he is one powerful guy with a vision. Many of his employees dont match that.

    I would rather have an ally, even if its not effective, than an enemy bent on my destruction.

    • #15
    • October 23, 2019, at 7:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the demographics of Facebook have changed, lots of younger hipster dewds no longer hang there, it’s parents sharing pictures of their Geritol prescriptions, etc.

    He’s marketing. If you sell furniture, and you had put an Obama campaign sticker in your window, and found out you lost enough customers, you’d take it down.

    It’s not good or bad. It just is. I think the impacts of this stuff is more than a bit overblown; how many people in the middle, swing voters, get pulled in one direction or another due to “stuff” on Facebook? Some percentage, of course, in the same way that media of any kind might influence a vote (newspapers for us old-timers, evening news, etc). I know the studies that speak to the influence it wields in general, and does have an impact, but how much? And how much should I care about what the whey-faced Zuckerberg “thinks”, which is really more about money than anything else?

     

    • #16
    • October 24, 2019, at 3:26 AM PST
    • Like
  17. cirby Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Zuckerberg gave an interview a few years ago where he gave his basic position, that if Facebook is to survive and grow it cannot ignore half of the world. He was not going to leave money on the table.

    However, he (and a lot of other people) realize that “trying to compete in a closed and hyper-regulated market in China” is often a losing proposition, especially when it damages their highly-profitable Western markets. There are many other places to look for customers.

     

    • #17
    • October 24, 2019, at 8:23 AM PST
    • Like
  18. The Reticulator Member

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):
    And how much should I care about what the whey-faced Zuckerberg “thinks”, which is really more about money than anything else?

    I’m in favor of caring that the ideas he expressed as quoted in the OP are right and important. It would be good to pressure him to live up to the principles he expressed. That is difficult to do with leftists. Whether Zuckerberg’s motives are pure or whether he is now redeemed is not really the important thing.

    • #18
    • October 24, 2019, at 9:52 AM PST
    • Like