Andrew Marantz, writing for the New Yorker about Facebook’s recent announcement that it will not monitor the factual content of political advertising on its platform:
It’s one thing for Zuckerberg to build the world’s biggest microphone and then choose to rent that microphone to liars, authoritarians, professional propagandists, or anyone else who can afford to pay market rate. It’s another, more galling thing for him to claim that he is doing so for everyone’s benefit.
One of the most important points Marantz makes, the one everyone forgets, is that companies are fully capable of making moral distinctions in the products they sell and the processes they support. They are not simply unthinking profit machines. He uses the example of Amazon and Whole Foods deciding not to sell cigarettes. It might be because there’s not enough money in it. But it could also be because they don’t think it’s the right thing to do for people or society.
Zuckerberg keeps using the language of being a so-called “platform,” with its false connotations of neutrality, to abdicate responsibility for his company becoming an attack vector against democracy.
That Facebook was used by a foreign power to influence U.S. elections in 2016 is a reported fact. That those same powers, possibly along with others, are back at in the run-up to the 2020 elections is also a reported fact. To add to that by knowingly trafficking in untruth for profit is the far greater assault on freedom.