Facebook is contorting itself to accommodate Trump's abuse
Last week, a few hours after accusing “Big Tech” companies of censoring conservatives, President Trump put out an incendiary comment on Twitter and Facebook that seemed designed to bait them into censoring him.
Twitter did, albeit in a halfhearted way that didn’t actually remove Trump’s words. Facebook didn’t — and its failure to act may do more harm to its cause than Twitter’s display of backbone.
That’s because Facebook’s fecklessness will only feed into the mounting pressure on policymakers to regulate how social media networks police themselves, and to deny them a crucial liability shield if they fail to meet some new government standard for evenhandedness. Both of those options are fraught with unintended consequences and potentially bad outcomes.
Trump himself is one of the leading proponents of regulating social media. The misbegotten executive order he released Thursday (which drew a lawsuit Tuesday from the tech advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology) seeks to have the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission determine when those companies are misleading the public about their policies toward speech and concealing some kind of bias.
Later that day, Trump tweeted and posted a 102-word attack on Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, saying he needed to get his city “under control” or Trump would send in the military. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote, quoting (consciously or not) a racist and brutal Miami police chief from 1967.
Although Trump later contended ...
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