Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proposed in an interview this week that political discussion on social media, including the immigration debate, should be regulated in an effort to crack down on foreign influence.
In a Good Morning America interview with George Stephanopoulos, Thursday, Zuckerberg declared, “All of the laws around political advertising today primarily focus on a candidate and an election, right, so, ‘Vote for this candidate in this election.’ But that’s not, primarily, what we saw Russia trying to do and other folks who were trying to interfere in elections. And what we saw them doing was talking about divisive political issues.”
“They’d run, simultaneously, different campaigns on social media trying to argue for immigration or against immigration. And the goal wasn’t, actually, to advance the issue forward. It was just to rile people up and be divisive. But the current laws around what is political advertising don’t consider discussion issues to be political,” he continued. “So that’s just one of the examples of where you know, it’s not clear to me, after working on this for a few years now, that we want a private company to be making that kind of a fundamental decision about, you know, what is political speech? And how should that be regulated?”
“I think, broadly, we would say that setting the rules around political advertising is not a company’s job, right? I mean, there’s been plenty of the rules in the past. It’s just that, at this point they’re not updated to the modern threats that we face or the modern kinds of nation-state trying to interfere in each other’s elections,” Zuckerberg elaborated. “We need new rules, right? It’s not, you can’t say that an election is just some period before people go to vote. I mean, the kind of information operations that these folks are trying to do now are ongoing, permanently. So I just think that we need new rules on this. Now, at Facebook, we’re doing the best that we can on each of these issues. But I think, ideally, you would have standards that you would want all of the major companies to be abiding by.”
After Stephanopoulos replied, “You’re already seeing the FCC push back fairly hard against this, two commissioners, I think, saying, ‘No, we don’t want to get into the business of policing the First Amendment,’” Zuckerberg responded, “I don’t think that that’s what this is, though, right? I think it’s you can say that kind of any regulation around what someone says online is protected. But I think that that’s clearly not right today.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr responded to the interview in a post on Twitter.
Facebook issues a new and expanded call for the government to police your online speech, in interview with @GStephanopoulos.
It asks for your speech on “divisive” issues – including posts on immigration – to be regulated by the government as if it were a campaign ad.
No thanks. pic.twitter.com/9a6VhlKjbH
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) April 4, 2019
“Facebook issues a new and expanded call for the government to police your online speech, in interview with @GStephanopoulos. It asks for your speech on ‘divisive’ issues – including posts on immigration – to be regulated by the government as if it were a campaign ad,” he proclaimed. “No thanks.”
FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry also criticized Zuckerberg’s proposal, noting, “It isn’t government’s role to regulate our discussion of ‘divisive political issues.’”
Count me as a “no” as well. It isn’t government’s role to regulate our discussion of “divisive political issues.” It’s also curious that Facebook’s CEO, who has such a loud megaphone himself, now seems so interested in government squelching the speech of ordinary Americans. https://t.co/EhdmZXOutA
— Matthew Berry (@matthewberryfcc) April 4, 2019
Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie commented, “Really terrible–Zuckerberg is talking about regulating ‘political speech’–all speech (commercial, artistic, etc) should be free, but *especially* political speech.”
Really terrible–Zuckerberg is talking about regulating “political speech”–all speech (commercial, artistic, etc) should be free, but *especially* political speech. https://t.co/I5ZxaSmSCa
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) April 4, 2019