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:
Democracy dies on Facebook https://t.co/ZJ6kpFKqX4
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) October 21, 2019
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:
Facebook shouldn't be intimidated into allowing lies and propaganda to be promoted on their website—and no private company should have this much power in the first place. We need to #BreakUpBigTech. https://t.co/EwCPbaGpiB
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 15, 2019
It’s encouraging seeing Zuckerberg’s stand for free speech and open communication. Hopefully, he’ll stand his ground.