There’s an ever-growing debate about how social media sites influence voters. Many people view the issues as moral and civil. The same types of questions Facebook faced during and after the 2016 election appear to remain. This is after many criticized the company for allowing President Trump to run ads they viewed as false ads.
Facebook, on the other hand, appears to be taking up for free speech. They say they’re not going to censor the President of the United States, even if he lies about an issue. That can be determined as politics as usual. What candidate doesn’t lie or even stretch the truth a bit? Should then Facebook censor all political ads? And who gets to determine what claim is legitimate and what isn’t?
Facebook’s position is, if a candidate or the president lies, it will be called out by the media. That is their job. Facebook’s job isn’t to decide what viewpoint is presented. All sides and all viewpoints have equal rights when you honor free speech. Still, not everyone agrees. This aggravation stems from 2016 when they view certain ads and ‘fake news’ swing the election in Trump’s favor.
Facebook and Free Speech
The latest criticism came after the whole Joe Biden/Trump/Ukraine controversy. As the impeachment inquiry heats up, Trump was using the opportunity to run ads against Joe Biden. Joe Biden is the current Democratic frontrunner and is, at this time, likely to win the nomination. Biden felt the ads were false and asked Facebook to take them down. They said no.
“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director, responded to the Biden campaign. “Political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is. Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third party fact checkers.”
The opposition thinks free speech is good, but that is often in a world without Facebook. On Facebook, everyone is able to retreat to their individual corners. We only receive the news and information we agree with, and block the stuff we don’t. So, if President Trump or any candidate makes a false claim, they often don’t see anything to counter it.
Not to mention, Facebook ads are often highly targeted. The president can reach anyone he wants with his message. That is a concern for Trump’s opponents. Facebook doesn’t see it that way. They are a platform that allows all the candidates equal opportunity. Fans and supporters of everyone running for president in 2020 get to see whoever they want to see. If their mind is already made up, then that’s that. You should force someone to see content they don’t want to see.