There is no question that the establishment media leans considerably to the political left. That’s what makes a new report that Facebook will afford journalists and activists increased protections from criticism so concerning.
According to Reuters, Facebook will increase protections for these two groups because it classifies them as “involuntary public figures.” The protections include prohibiting the public from engaging in “harassment and bullying” toward journalists and “human rights defenders.”
On the surface, this sounds all well and good. Any reasonable person would agree that no one should be harassed or bullied over the internet.
The problem, however, is that Facebook cannot be trusted to define what constitutes bullying given its own left-leaning ideology.
Facebook has already proven it is willing to suppress information it does not agree with. For example, the company has taken action to protect Hunter Biden from merited criticism on multiple occasions.
The stories Facebook suppressed were not “bullying” or “harassment” but rather factual reporting on multiple scandals involving the son of the United States president. They were restricted anyway.
If those instances are any indication, Facebook has no problem censoring information it doesn’t like, even if it does not constitute a violation of its rules.
While protecting political figures and their families from well-deserved criticism is dangerous enough, protecting journalists is even worse. Journalists need to be held accountable, especially considering the amount of dishonest reporting floating around.
During the last presidential administration, the establishment media worked overtime to blame then-President Donald Trump for the COVID-19 pandemic. Some outlets like Business Insider went so far as to suggest Trump was directly responsible for a large percentage of COVID-19 deaths.
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But on Oct. 6, when the death toll of 2021 surpassed that of 2020, major outlets including Forbes, USA Today and The New York Times reported the story without mentioning Biden’s name at all.
That is irresponsible journalism, and it deserves to be called out as such. But if a Facebook user criticizes one of the authors of those articles for their dishonesty, will that user then be flagged for “bullying” the journalist?
COVID-19 coverage is just one of many examples of biased and often dishonest reporting from the establishment media. The misleading coverage spans a wide variety of topics, which is why journalistic accountability is so important.
Furthermore, past experience tells us it is unlikely for Facebook to treat conservative journalists the same way they treat leftist ones.
Should we really expect Facebook to prohibit content attacking Ben Shapiro at the same rate it censors criticism of Chris Cuomo? It seems unlikely.
Facebook’s stated purpose of prohibiting cyberbullying on the platform would be admirable in a vacuum. Facebook’s actions, however, have shown the company to be incapable of determining what constitutes rule violations. And the platform is unlikely to be equal in its treatment of journalists with different political leanings.
Facebook has already come under fire in recent weeks for its treatment of public figures. On Sept. 13, The Wall Street Journal alleged Facebook had “built a system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules.”
The WSJ said the program is known as “cross check,” and it was originally created to monitor actions taken against “high-profile accounts.” Now, according to the paper, internal documents from the company show the program “shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process.”
In today’s climate, it is more important than ever for both the establishment media and Big Tech to be held accountable by everyday Americans. One of those entities protecting the other is a direct obstacle to that accountability.