April 2, 2019

Zuckerberg Calls for Regulation of the Internet

Facebook’s CEO doesn’t believe in free speech and wants a seat at the regulating table.

“Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Saturday. Following years of criticism by lawmakers and the public at large for his company’s poor handling of user data, biased speech policies and the proliferation of “fake news,” Zuckerberg is seeking to offer a “solution” to placate those calling for trust-busting of Facebook.

And as is so often the case, Zuckerberg’s solution is worse than the problem. He writes, “A common global framework — rather than regulation that varies significantly by country and state — will ensure that the Internet does not get fractured, entrepreneurs can build products that serve everyone, and everyone gets the same protections.” In other words, a globalized policing of the Internet, which walks all over Americans’ fundamental right of freedom of speech, is Zuckerberg’s “solution.”

Zuckerberg touts the European Union’s free-speech-limiting General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a framework that he agrees with, writing, “I believe it would be good for the Internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework.” Essentially, what Zuckerberg is advocating for is a global governing body to set the speech rules for regulating the Internet everywhere.

What Zuckerberg misses or simply refuses to accept is what the problem actually is. The problem is not too much free speech; rather it is those like Zuckerberg who are seeking to limit the free-speech rights of others via government dictate. As Reason’s Nick Gillespie notes, “The core problem with Zuckerberg’s thinking is that he doesn’t trust his users to use the tools that Facebook and other social media platforms provide.” Like all authoritarian types, he doesn’t believe individuals can be trusted with freedom.

He is also seeking to find a way to keep his company from being broken up. Zuckerberg is moving to insulate Facebook from having to answer for its own inconsistent platform policing, while at the same time positioning himself to having a prominent seat at the global regulatory table. Cronyism on a global scale.

What Zuckerberg should be demanding is no speech policing of the Internet period. He should be one of the loudest advocates for an unregulated Internet where freedom of speech is prized as its most valued and fundamental asset, to be preserved at all costs. And to do so by necessity means tolerating offensive and hateful speech. To err on the side of freedom of speech even though it may include tolerating hateful and evil speech is far better than silencing freedom of thought in the name of “protection.” As history has repeatedly demonstrated, authoritarian “protectionism” always and consistently produces exponentially more outright evil than freedom of thought and speech ever has.

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