For years, conservatives have complained about the liberal bias of big tech companies. Large social media giants seem to censor conservative voices much more often than they do liberal ones. Just last month, The Daily Citizen covered Facebook’s censorship of pro-life organization Live Action. Now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to be listening to this criticism and may be ready to do something about it.
Over the past few months, Zuckerberg has met privately with numerous prominent conservative figures to listen to them and hear their perspectives on the issue of censorship. According to an article in Politico, the meetings centered around, “free expression, unfair treatment of conservatives, the appeals process for real or perceived unfair treatment, fact checking, partnerships and privacy.”
The meetings took place in California at one of Zuckerberg’s ten homes. Some of those involved in the discussions include Sen. Lindsey Graham, Tucker Carlson, Hugh Hewitt, Ben Shapiro, Brent Bozell and Byron York.
Unsurprisingly, the news that Zuckerberg met with conservatives drew instant backlash from some on the left. CBS News reported that the hashtag #DeleteFacebook was trending with a total of 54,000 tweets shortly after the news broke.
Zuckerberg responded to the outrage with a Facebook post of his own. He wrote, “To be clear, I have dinners with lots of people across the spectrum. Meeting new people and hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do!”
Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang took a lonely stand by praising the news of Zuckerberg’s outreach. Yang tweeted, “Mark Zuckerberg – or anyone – meeting with Americans of different political ideologies and backgrounds is a good thing.”
Back in a blockbuster 2018 Senate hearing, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz asked Zuckerberg directly about the perceived bias against conservatives within Facebook. Sen. Cruz said, “In 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news including stories about CPAC, Mitt Romney, the Lois Learner IRS Scandal and Glenn Beck. In addition, Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Page, has blocked a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias.”
But Facebook’s battle over how it handles content does not lie solely with conservatives. After Facebook announced last month that they would not monitor or censor ads paid for by political campaigns, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her outrage at the decision known. She argued that the policy allows politicians to blatantly lie to the public with impunity.
To prove her point, Sen. Warren’s presidential campaign began running an ad on Facebook with the lead, “Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election.” Though it was obviously false, the ad was approved and began running on Facebook shortly thereafter.
Facebook responded to Sen. Warren on Twitter with a defense of its advertising policy, arguing that they take the same approach to ads that the FCC requires broadcast companies to take. “Looks like broadcast stations across the country have aired this (Trump) ad nearly 1,000 times, as required by law. FCC doesn’t want broadcast companies censoring candidates’ speech. We agree it’s better to let voters – not companies – decide.”
While it may take awhile for social media giants to earn back conservatives’ trust, if they ever do, Zuckerberg’s outreach is certainly a step in the right direction. Time will tell if social media companies realize it may not be a good idea to alienate half of their potential clients.
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