Censors at Facebook possess free rein to block all those who refuse to toe the line as they see it. Section 230 must be changed.
By: Adina Kutnicki
Hot on the heels of a series of explosive exposés by this investigative journalist at Israel National News–regarding the stepped-up global dangers emanating from the overall policies at Facebook–namely, We Need to deep-dive into the dynamics of Facebook (September 20, 2021), The Facebook octopus ( August 18, 2021), Facebook and Freedom (August 3, 2021), and a host of others at highly-trafficked news sites and aggregators, it is neither accidental nor incidental that a top-level whistle-blower from Facebook, Frances Haugen, recently dropped a bombshell interview at CBS’s 60 Minutes (October 4, 2021) with veteran journalist Scott Pelley.
One may rightfully inquire: who is Frances Haugen? Well, armed with 15 plus years of experience at several social media giants within Silicon Valley, until recently, she was senior Product Manager at Facebook. Possessing two heavy-duty degrees, one in Data Science as a computer engineer, as well as an MBA from Harvard, her academic credentials are impeccable. Facebook wooed her (despite their back-pedaling, now that the cat is out of the bag) and placed her in charge of their newly developed and improved “Civic Integrity Team.” What irony.
She was privy to across-the-board privileged information, again, never mind their denials that she possessed said access. Haugen’s main responsibility was to ensure that the many products designed and developed by FB’s various company platforms, at all times, maximized revenue streams. This is well and good. After all, capitalism is the engine and hub which drives innovation and has allowed America to remain the heretofore leader of the free world.
But there’s a major caveat to this general principle. Since Facebook is the de facto Internet since nearly every site connects to it–by extrapolation, it controls the information which flows across its entirety. The fact that it seems to be propping up the far left on the one hand, and Islamic extremists on the other, may set the stage for global and national disasters. (See the links in the opening paragraph.)
In this regard, Facebook’s company positions seem in direct conflict with the public interest within a civilized society. Moreover, they traverse beyond any ideological divide. After all, setting wildfires is hardly an acceptable business model for an American-based mega entity.
The platform is a power like non other. This is precisely how CEO Mark Zuckerberg (along with his mirror-like counterparts at Twitter, and up and down Silicon Valley’s censors and arbiters of social discourse) is able to silence President Trump, never mind countless other heavy-weights (and possibly millions of others) who hold conservative viewpoints.
Back to the bombshell interview. As reported at Fox Business,
“In addition to the temporary outages, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is set to testify on Tuesday morning against the social media giant. On Sunday, Haugen was revealed on CBS’ “60 Minutes” as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement that Facebook’s own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation, leads to increased polarization and that Instagram, specifically, can harm teenage girls’ mental health.
“Haugen claimed that Facebook betrayed “democracy” by allowing the algorithm to push misinformation on its users during the 2020 election. She said the company recognized the risk of misinformation and added safety systems to reduce that risk, but she accused the company of loosening those measures after the election.
“‘As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety,’ Haugen said. ‘And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me…..'”
The interview was designed and timed to blow shortly after Jeff Horwitz (and his team) revealed a treasure trove of internal documents at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ, September 13, 2021) via The Facebook Files. In the realm of investigative journalism, incontestably, timing really is everything.
Not only that, it is not for nothing that Horwitz’s findings are highlighted September 20, 2021 at Israel National News. Indeed, in the aforementioned professional arena, it is often the case that one may be conducting an in-depth investigation, yet never know that others are peering through the same looking-glass, in a manner of speaking.
All of which segues back to what has become a problem beyond measure across the West in general, as well as within remote corners of the world; whose peoples struggle to break free and want their voices to be heard.
In a myriad of ways, the censors at Facebook possess free rein to block all those who refuse to toe the line as they see it. Presently, there appears to be no end in sight. This is so for multi-faceted reasons. But in all fairness, it reverts back to before “AOC +”, the radical of lawmaker who took over Congress;.
Millions have been blocked and punished, it appears, for expressing conservative views and values. If one espouses patriotic ethos, if one’s perspective leans in the direction of a socially conservative bent circle of Facebook friends, who, for the most part, are staunchly Judeo-Christian in nature, that enrages so-called progressives. A double crime is committed if one dares to hold steadfast to both pro-American and pro-Israel ideology.
There is an epic showdown in Congress at present to ram through a 2,701 page mammoth Infrastructure Bill–the likes of which will strangle many generations to come with untold debt. This is aside from all the socialist programs the Biden regime seeks to shove down the throats of millions who want nothing to do with them. What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Everything.
The radicals who truly rule Congress have elevated the bugaboo “climate change” to a deified status. But without getting into the whys and wherefores, the fact is that this, in one way or another, has its fingerprints stamped all over the above plans.
Ushered in under “the Squad’s” anti-American, anti-Semitic wings, the marching orders are clear: there will be zero tolerance for any prominent voices (let alone any average Joe blow) raining down on “climate change”, a/k/a the Green New Deal. To said end, the likes of veteran journalist John Stossel has resorted to suing Facebook for defamation. Apparently, the “fact-checkers” took issue with his fact-based reporting entitled “Government Fueled Fires” and silenced his voice. It seems that pointing out that forestry mismanagement fueled the fires across California, among other negligent acts, must be muted.
In a nutshell, where are the pitfalls, and what’s to be done?
Firstly, the pitfalls.
In seen and unseen ways, the Facebook, Inc. Political Action Committee buys up influence within both parties, well beyond lobbying groups who regularly operate on Capitol Hill in the run-up to this and that election cycle. Simply put, their muscle can be felt in every corner of the Beltway. Is it any wonder that every Congressional smoke and mirrors show ends up with nothing more than empty promises wafting out of its Chambers?
But make no mistake. It is not as if there aren’t political (and legal) solutions. Atop the list, lie two main tactics: the bust-up of Facebook’s monopolistic hegemony via a myriad of sub-sections under the U.S. AntiTrust Law; the precedents of which can be viewed within the break-up of yesteryear’s vulture-like utility companies and a slew of oil conglomerates.
In order for any break-up to acquire real teeth, the removal of Facebook’s absolute shield and cover must be repealed. It is housed under the umbrella provided by 47 U.S. Code Section 230, that which it hides behind to block all those who refuse to toe the so-called progressive line.
Effectively, under the twenty-five-year-old Communications Decency Act (an oxymoron, if there ever was one) of 1996, a/k/a 47 U.S.C. 230, Facebook meets the standards set out there. Thereby, it can operate sans a minimum of government oversight, completely unfettered.
As it stands, Facebook cannot be held legally liable as a regular publisher can, or as a speaker for anyone who provides content there. More trenchantly, the Act precludes any cause of action which is inconsistent with its overall basis. What it boils down to is this: essentially, those who create or develop any part of the Internet, as a service provider or a system, are protected from legal actions.
And this is precisely why Congress must revisit and repeal the aforementioned quarter of a century old Act. As a matter of record, it was conceived eight years before Facebook exploded onto the scene in February 2004. What this means is painfully obvious: what was appropriate in 1996 can no longer stand as is, and on its own merits. Israel has begun the process of calling Facebook to account.
As a wise editor once said to me, “to effect change, one must give up on the niceties.” Simply speaking, this means that when dealing with problems which appear insurmountable, more heavy-lifting will have to be exerted, rather than less, even at a personal cost. Silence is no longer an option.
The relevance of the above advice cannot be overstated, that is, when considering all the professional risks undertaken by whistle-blowers, in their quests to right monumental wrongs.
To risk one’s hard-earned career to step forward to blow the whistle is not for the faint of heart. Even more so, one needn’t agree with any of Haugen’s politics, reasoning and viewpoints (explained within the 60 Minutes bombshell) to recognize a most important life lesson: one’s most valued commodity–when departing this earth–is one’s good name, a/k/a, their Shem Tov.
Conclusively, as a 37-year old woman in the prime of her career, if anything, she surely merits our consideration for coming forward. (This article originally appeared on the ArutzSheva.com web site)