The Morning Briefing: Zuckerberg Is Right—Facebook Isn't the News Hall Monitor for Stupid People

(Press Association via AP Images)
Facebook Is for Pictures of Your Kids and Dogs

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — much to the surprise of many — may be emerging as a voice of reason in what social media should and should not be doing regarding political information posted on various platforms. Sure, he looks good relative to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, but so did Josef Stalin.

OK, I’m exaggerating a bit.

Just a bit.

The role of social media — especially Facebook — in disinformation campaigns and political influence has been a hot topic ever since the 2016 election. It’s a valid discussion, as bad actors and foreign agents will use whatever mass communication tools are available to them. The conversation tends to go off in a lot of ridiculous directions, however, and misses the main point, which we will get to in a moment.

After Twitter had its crippling Trump Derangement Syndrome manifest itself in an idiotic fact check the other day, Zuckerberg weighed in with a bit of surprising clarity on how he viewed Facebook’s role:

“We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies shouldn’t be—or especially these platform companies—shouldn’t be in the position of doing that,” Zuckerberg told Fox News’s Dana Perino.

Facebook has had its share of word and thought policing in the past, so Zuckerberg isn’t exactly a saint on this issue. He does seem to be coming around a bit in the last several months, however.

As the leftist Russian hoax played out, Facebook was made out to be Public Enemy Number One. If one believed the tale that was being spun, Facebook was a witting tool of Russian propagandists that swayed the entire course of an American presidential election. As all of that played out, social media in general was portrayed as some sort of mind control machine that had complete control of the American people.

Therein lies the problem.

We have been living in a media saturated age for a very long time now, and the advent of social media has made it even more so. The notion that we are all just automatons dancing to the whims of Facebook and Twitter is patently ridiculous, but that’s what the various thought and speech police would like everyone to believe.


(Press Association via AP Images)

We are now being plagued by the leftist notion that everything can be controlled from the top down. They truly believe that if Twitter and Facebook just police their users’ content properly, they can protect gullible people from wrong information, whether it’s unintentionally or intentionally wrong.

This theory completely discounts the fact that stupid people will always be stupid. No amount of nanny policy from Facebook or Twitter can fix that. Zuckerberg seems to be finally getting that. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t, and probably never will. The leftist approach will always be one of central control. They diminish and discount the worth and power of the individual, but a little faith in the people is what is needed here, and that’s something else that Zuckerberg seems to be getting these days:

Let’s face it, if a majority of the electorate is really that easily swayed by a Facebook post, we’re already lost. Rational people know that most people aren’t taking their cues from social media though.

Even if the thought police were able to sanitize Facebook and Twitter to save the masses from themselves, how are we to monitor the various other influences in the big bad world that may lead them astray and make them vote Republican?

Any incursion into the realm of speech policing should be dealt with quickly. Many will no doubt react to this by being dismissive of Facebook and Twitter simply because they aren’t on either platform. That doesn’t change the fact that both are still major players in the modern information society. We can’t let those who would erode basic freedoms get a foothold in social media.

Fortunately, it looks like Zuckerberg is more interested in finding new ways for Facebook to make money than he is in controlling its users these days. It looks good relative to the way he used to be and sometimes we have to look at baby steps as a real victory.

I’m on Facebook for the same reason most people are: to keep track of everyone’s birthdays. OK, I brag about my kid there too. I don’t do any politics over there. I certainly do take anything political I read there with a grain of salt, as I suspect most people do. I’m not worried that one incorrect political post is going to flip votes all over the place.

Facebook is still the largest of the social media platforms by far, so it would be nice if Zuckerberg is sincere about his recent comments and he sticks to them going forward.

Our enemies will keep using Facebook and Twitter for nefarious reasons, we just need to keep our eyes open.



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Reduct This

The Kruiser Kabana

One night after I got done headlining a gig in Connecticut I decided to get some dinner before heading back to New York. There was an Italian place that looked good but it was packed. The owner was at the door and invited me to eat with him. Near the end of the meal, he very kindly said, “You’re not the only celebrity here tonight, you know. Gene Wilder is in the back. He comes here every Thursday. Would you like to meet him?” I got to talk to Wilder for a few minutes and he was one of the most gracious famous people I’ve ever met. He spoke so softly I had to lean in to hear him. It’s a very cherished memory.

I worry about my summer body.


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PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author ofDon’t Let the Hippies ShowerandStraight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear every Tuesday and Friday.