It has become a sport on Capitol Hill of both parties to take Facebook and Twitter to task for bias and social media hegemony. But, given Facebook and Twitter are private companies, should government be involved in the first place?
A free market analysis says no. Facebook and Twitter can be as biased as they desire, as they are private companies and not public services. Thus, since when are private companies legitimately accused of actionable ideological bias? Journals of opinion from this publication to National Review to The Nation are obviously biased towards one ideology or another. Should a Senate committee be able to tell us or them we must balance our views? How does that fit with our greatest of ideals and laws, the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution? The questions on this issue almost write themselves.
Yes, the two social media platforms are very biased to the Left. But who is holding a gun to anyone’s head to use the service they provide? As many do not watch television news they think is biased, can’t they do the same thing with Facebook or Twitter? Would you haul CBS or NBC, both leftist private companies, in front of Congress to account for their views? How does that square with freedom of thought and expression? Isn’t the censoring of views that don’t fit a certain ideology a province of authoritarian socialists, not conservatives? What are Facebook and Twitter legally liable for, for not agreeing with those who denounce them as leftist?
Under what pretext? These are private firms and they may behave as they see fit, as they are not publicly funded with taxpayer dollars. They should be accountable to market forces and market pressures, that’s all. Especially since they provide a free service.
Noting where we are now after several Congressional enquiries on Facebook & news of Le Zuck meeting with 45 & Republicans senators, I guess the most pertinent question is: does Congress have the power to bring a private company like Facebook to task for its transgressions? 🤔 https://t.co/qdznh0a0CA
— Kausik (@kausikdatta22) November 23, 2020
Ask yourself this: If you went into a restaurant and didn’t like what was on the menu, do you have the right to demand the restaurant change the menu? Should government have that power? What if, because of a promotional campaign, the meal is free and will be from now on (and the restaurant is known for not charging regular customers)? Does that make you more or less entitled to change the menu to dishes that you may enjoy more?
Yes, we’ve gone a bit overboard with the Socratic method. But alas, to continue, if we mandate Facebook or Twitter curb their ideology, as much as we may not like their bias, where does it stop? If we give government the power to regulate them or censor them because we think they are a threat to the republic, what happens when others find Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, or your favorite publication or pundit a threat to the republic? Why don’t they get to censor our preferred views?
As much as they annoy us and infuriate us with their devilish bias, Facebook and Twitter should not be made to legally respond to anything but market pressure. On that principle we shield them and by doing so ultimately shield our own private right to free thought and a private sector as free as possible from government interference…Perhaps this film clip says it best, “I give the devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.”