Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Facebook boasts 2.37 billion active users and controls 85% of social traffic. There’s every reason to fear it and a growing bipartisan consensus about the need to tackle it and Google with anti-trust laws.
But lefties and conservatives want very different things from Facebook.
Nothing shows that better than Senator Elizabeth Warren’s pressure campaign to get Facebook to censor President Trump’s campaign ads. Warren’s latest stunt is an ad accusing Facebook of helping “elect Donald Trump once” and CEO Mark Zuckerberg of giving Trump “free rein to lie on his platform.”
Warren claims to fear Facebook and yet she also wants to put it in charge of presidential campaign ads.
Anti-trust actions are pursued against companies that have too much power. But Warren is really arguing that Facebook doesn’t have enough power and isn’t exercising the power that it has.
Does Warren really want to break up Facebook or to use the threat of a breakup to turn it into an even bigger monster? The socialist senator’s accusation that the dot com giant helped elect Trump goes to the heart of the lefty grievance against Facebook. Their problem with Facebook is that it’s too open. It didn’t censor Trump in 2016 and now it’s failing to censor him in the 2020 election campaign.
Conservatives however believe that Facebook is too closed, that it censors too much already.
Let’s take Senator Warren at her word. The radical socialist politician isn’t out to empower Facebook. And she isn’t hectoring Zuckerberg because she wants him to be the arbiter of our national politics. Instead she’s going after her true goal of putting the government in charge of politics on Facebook.
Warren’s big tech breakup proposal would cost Facebook plenty of money by breaking off Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies, but seemingly have little impact on its core platform. But by transforming the company into what she describes as one of a handful of “platform utilities”, it could be regulated on levels having nothing to do with the business or privacy issues that are the official pretext.
And Warren has made it clear what her regulatory priorities on Facebook really are: banning conservatives. In her big tech breakup plan, she insists that, “we must ensure that Russia — or any other foreign power — can’t use Facebook or any other form of social media to influence our elections.”
The Russia Facebook hoax has been disproven countless times, but its central claim, that conservative messaging on social media was really a Russian conspiracy, is an argument for treating the political opposition as a foreign intelligence threat. Warren’s insistence that Facebook censor Trump sheds the foreign policy conspiracy layer to directly demand that even conservative presidential candidates should be silenced. Disinformation, a term once used to demand action against foreign state actors on social media, has been retooled to impose a new kind of ‘Fairness Doctrine’ on American political ads.
Facebook doesn’t want to be in that position. And Warren isn’t about to leave it to Facebook.
Senator Warren fails to explain how her plan for Facebook would achieve anything useful. Her post claims, bizarrely, that, “Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy.” That sentence suggests she doesn’t understand anything about how the internet works. But Warren isn’t really that stupid. The sentence is meaningless boilerplate nonsense because her real agenda for Facebook can’t actually be spelled out just yet.
To spot it, follow her grievances with Facebook over the Russian conspiracy and Trump’s ads.
And that’s why Senator Warren can’t be trusted. While some conservatives are eager to find allies anywhere they can, radical socialist totalitarians make extremely unstable and dangerous allies.
Conservatives have been pursuing anti-trust action against big tech monopolies because of the growing risk that their censorship of conservatives could eliminate conservatives from the internet. But there’s no quicker way to achieve that than to put Facebook under the umbrella of a regulatory organization with a broad enough mission that it can encompass setting standards for political discourse on social media. That’s always been the inherent risk with regulating big tech, instead of breaking it up.
The push to regulate big internet companies as utilities, instead of just breaking them up, risks turning them over to Warren and her political allies who would be happy to eliminate conservatives entirely.
Senator Warren’s ad blasts proves that the socialist politician can’t be trusted on breaking up big tech.
Warren has tried to copy the tone of some of President Trump’s signature policies, from trade policies to big tech breakups, but even when the tools are similar, her desired outcome is drastically different.
The fundamental difference between leftists and conservatives is that the latter believe in eliminating that which usurps the rights of individuals while the former fight to destroy that which usurps the power of government. This same duality also holds up in the debate over breaking up big tech monopolies.
Conservatives turned against big tech companies because they usurp the rights of individuals to express their views while leftists are going after big tech because they believe that companies like Facebook are holding powers that rightly belong to government. That’s what Warren’s ad censorship call is all about.
Senator Warren doesn’t think that Facebook has too much power. She just thinks that all that power is in the wrong hands.
And that is the fundamental problem with an internet environment in which one company can control 80% or more of search or social traffic. The very existence of this much centralized power in one place is an irresistible temptation to the ultimate source of centralized political power: the government.
It’s also why Google and Facebook need to be broken up. Not just because they’re too big. But because they’re so big and powerful that they can’t be allowed to fall into President Elizabeth Warren’s hands.
The People’s Republic of China has shown us the terrifying reality of government control over the internet. In the last four years, that totalitarian system appears to have become a model for lefties seeking to consolidate control over the internet in order to fight “disinformation” and foreign conspiracies. The implementation of that model has triggered a power struggle over social media.
Facebook is at the heart of that struggle.
Social media is democracy in its purest form. It’s meant to be driven by the interests of its users, not the dictates of politicians. That’s why Senator Warren and other lefties have blamed social media for Trump’s victory. It’s why they can’t be allowed to destroy it.