By Onan Coca
Earlier this week, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) attempted to explain to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that many of the ideas that Facebook considers inflammatory and unsafe, are actually just mainstream conservative ideas.
Many conservatives throughout the media echoed these sentiments, but watching Mark Zuckerberg in Washington, we just can’t tell if he’s actually absorbing the reality of what he’s hearing.
Which is why it’s vital that conservatives continue to bang the drum on free speech and that we keep articulating to the Tech giants that mainstream conservative speech is NOT dangerous, or hateful.
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) was doing just that late this week, when he had his chance to speak with Zuckerberg about conservative concerns.
Steve Scalise: “I do want to ask you about a study that was done dealing with the algorithm that Facebook uses to describe what is fed to people through the news feed and what they found was after this new algorithm was implemented that there was a tremendous bias against conservative news and content and a favorable bias towards liberal content, and if you can look at that, that shows a 16-point disparity, which is concerning… You have 20,000 people that work on some of this data analysis. If you can look and see if there is a bias and let us know if there is and what you’re doing about it, because that is disturbing when you see that kind of disparity,”
Zuckerberg responded by explaining that there has never been an explicit directive from Facebook leadership to be biased in one direction or the other.
However, as Zuckerberg noted the previous day when testifying before the Senate, Silicon Valley is a very liberal place and so his employees are likely naturally biased towards the left.
A report from the Daily Wire in March exposed how the recent changes in the Facebook algorithm were hurting conservative sites but helping liberals sites.
“Overall, since mid-February, when Facebook implemented its new ‘trusted sources’ algorithm — which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described as an attempt to clamp down on ‘sensationalism, misinformation and polarization’ — the study found that most conservative sites have seen a significant drop in traffic, while most liberal sites have seen little impact. The study tracked 50 sites (25 conservative, 25 liberal) known to have significant Facebook traffic. The conservative sites saw a 14% decrease in traffic on average. When Fox News, one of the only conservative-leaning sites to see an increase in traffic since the changes, is excluded from the list, the average decline is far more dramatic. Meanwhile, the 25 left-leaning sites included in the study saw a 2% increase in traffic by average.”
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) didn’t have the chance to get face time with Mark Zuckerberg this week, but he nonetheless took time to speak out, on the record, against Facebook’s bias towards conservatives.
“What is it about two black women espousing their support of the president of the United States that makes them ‘unsafe’ for the community? They aren’t bullies. They aren’t violent. They aren’t inciting riots. I don’t always agree with their methodology or even some of their statements. But I don’t have to agree with them. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment, isn’t it?
Tell me, if they were two African American liberals espousing their views about a liberal political figure, would they too be considered ‘unsafe’? I don’t think they would.”
He then pointed out that Facebook often defends itself by hiding behind the cloak of the 1st Amendment, but then hypocritically denies their users the same right.
Scott then concluded with, “If you’re Russians trying to influence the elections, kick them off. But they didn’t. If you’re inciting violence and hate, kick them off, absolutely. But if you’re two African American conservative women sharing your somewhat colorful but ultimately harmless opinions, I’d like to think that’s okay for the community.”
Honestly, i’d go further than Scott does.
He doesn’t seem to realize that Facebook is an international platform, not just an American one. If Russians want to “try” to influence our election by giving their personal political opinions… why should that be shut down? I speak out against Canadian, French, British, and other international politicians and politics all of the time. (I even speak out against Russians!)
I speak out against international policies and I speak out in favor of international policies (and some politicians).
I simply don’t understand why Russian writers shouldn’t be able to do the same. If they break our laws, or if they use their platform to commit fraud… that’s a different story. But if they publish pro-Trump, anti-Trump, or neutral-on-Trump pieces… why should we care?
Moreover, he says that we should kick out people who are inciting “hate.” That’s too broad for me. Inciting violence should be verboten, but how do you judge what incites “hate.” Most of the time the left and the right can’t even agree about what “hate” is.
I appreciate Senator Scott speaking out for free speech, but i’m not sure he’s fully though through the issue as it relates to Facebook.
However, I applaud him for speaking out and other conservatives should be doing the same.
Republished with permission Eagle Rising
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Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Liberty Alliance media group. He’s also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.