“It’s like asking the fox to guard the henhouse,” said former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
Cain was referring to the role that social media giants play as the primary determiners of which news and other content is — or is not seen — by millions of people online.
Big Tech defended itself before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday against a variety of accusations, offering profuse apologizes to the conservative duo Diamond and Silk — Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — who appeared at related hearings in the spring to air their grievances with Facebook.
“We badly mishandled our communications with them, and since then, we’ve worked hard to improve our relationship,” said Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, at the hearing on Tuesday. “We appreciate the perspective that they add to our platform.”
But that isn’t the whole story.
“I talked with Diamond and Silk personally last week,” Cain said to host Laura Ingraham. “And they are still getting the runaround.”
“The people that appear before Congress [such as Bickert] are professional spinsters … They will say one thing, but what’s actually happening does not match. And I know from personal experience that a lot of the censoring is happening.”
Cain said he experienced traffic disruptions on his own Facebook page similar to what Diamond and Silk described. He, too, attributes the decline in traffic directly to Facebook’s mysterious algorithms.
“Then are in denial that they are, in fact, trying to censor conservative content,” he concluded.
Bickert’s apology was directed at Diamond and Silk, who alleged months ago that Facebook was intentionally and unfairly censoring the conservative content they post on their very popular Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in an interview with Kara Swisher on “Recode Decode,” talked social media, politics, and the confluence of the two. Zuckerberg pointed out it isn’t Facebook’s job to fact-check websites that use his platform.
Laura Ingraham, echoing this theme, remarked Wednesday night, “We have companies now that have earnings that are a multiple of many sizable countries. They have an enormous amount of power. And when you’re talking about an information flow … Facebook … shouldn’t be a censor, shouldn’t be blocking certain views. And they also can’t control everything on their platform.”
On making the case for the continued ability of sites like InfoWars to use the platform like anyone else, Zuckerberg said in the “Recode Decode” interview, “As abhorrent as some of [that] content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice.”
Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, made a comment at one point about Holocaust deniers. While he finds it deeply offensive and abhorrent, he said, he doesn’t consider this content Facebook should remove because “I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
The defining line for him, in terms of required removal, is whether the content is intended to cause harm or attack someone.
He later clarified and walked back the controversial statement after he was soundly routed on social media for it, CNN reported. He doubled down on the company’s strategy of reducing the distribution of “misinformation” in lieu of removing it unless it’s found to contribute to actual physical harm.
On this point, Ingraham shared her concern that a policy of removing misinformation that “could lead to violence” could potentially be weaponized against conservative content. “I hope that’s never going to be used to target conservative speech or liberal speech, for that matter. But once you start getting into that realm of ‘I’m gonna determine content,’ then I think you’re opening the door to real problems.”
“Censoring is in fact happening. I know it for a fact,” said Herman Cain on “The Ingraham Angle.” “And a lot of other people that I’ve talked to also know it for a fact.”
Zuckerberg expounded on Facebook’s commitment to striking a balance between a pair of competing company goals: giving people a voice and keeping the Facebook community “safe.” In this sense, safety involves avoiding Facebook’s becoming a vehicle for hoaxes, fake news, and the like.
Even before the hearing and Zuckerberg’s interview with Recode, anti-conservative bias was on full and shameful display in private meetings in New York City between the social media giant and publishing executives. But this time, the glaring bias wasn’t on the part of Facebook per se. It was on the part of liberal news outlets.
In the closed-door meeting, editors of the liberal outlets BuzzFeed and Huffington Post decried the mere presence of a well-respected conservative outlet, The Daily Caller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
They were put out by the half-and-half ratio in the room of liberal to conservative outlets. During the meeting, they accused Facebook of being “overly accommodating” to purveyors of conservative-friendly content, the outlet reported. Further, Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, characterized conservatives’ level of inclusion as a demonstration of Facebook’s poor grasp on the true workings of the news industry.
His point, apparently, was to deny the liberal bent of The New York Times (obvious to anyone who reads it, of course). And he seemed to reason there was no commensurate need to provide political “balance” in the meeting by including conservative voices at all. So much for the inclusive Left.
“The fox guarding the henhouse is not going to work,” Cain told Ingraham last night. “I don’t care what they say to Congress. I don’t believe that it is the true story as to what’s really happening.”
He added, “Censoring is in fact happening. I know it for a fact. And a lot of other people that I’ve talked to also know it for a fact.”
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.