Conservatives are plenty angry at how they’re treated by Facebook, but at least the liberals have nothing to complain about, right?
Well, if Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s recent holy war against the social media giant is any indication, that’s certainly not the case.
Now, a coalition of liberal groups is hitting Facebook with a ridiculous list of demands — and for once, Facebook desperately needs to fight back.
The letter comes from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which is essentially an omnibus group primarily comprised of standard-issue liberal pressure groups, identity politics organizations and organized labor. Some of the groups involved include the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the National Education Association, the UAW, the National Organization for Women and the Service Employees International Union.
“Our organizations have engaged with your company in good faith for many years, urging you to take concrete steps to protect civil rights and address all facets of potential discrimination on your platform,” the letter said. “We recognize that Facebook has made some progress in certain areas.
“Nonetheless, we write today because our trust in the company is sorely broken. Despite years of dialogue and a partially complete civil rights audit, Facebook continues to act with reckless disregard for civil rights. Instead, the company repeatedly develops and releases products and policies that cause serious harm — outcomes that could have been avoided, if only the company would proactively consider protection of civil rights as a fundamental obligation as serious as any other goal of the company.”
The letter, dated Oct. 21, sounds innocuous enough — although, like many of these things, what sounds innocuous could be very far from it.
The group notes that Facebook’s “meetings with conservative stakeholders have been well documented. We are deeply disappointed that you have not extended the same courtesy to the civil rights leaders whose communities are harmed by your policies and products.”
Several of the issues seem pretty uncontroversial. The group demanded that discriminatory housing and credit ads be taken off of the platform and that white nationalist and white supremacist groups be banned. While the definition of at least one of these things can be called into question later on, it’s clear that the overarching aims here aren’t controversial.
A section on “Voter and Census Suppression,” however, makes it far more clear the group is demanding something beyond basic civil and human rights.
“Facebook did not safeguard its platform against Russian interference in our elections, which exploited racial division and attempted to suppress voting by people of color,” the letter said.
“Only after it was implicated in the 2016 election did your company begin to take steps to address foreign interference in American elections and census disinformation. And yet, sabotaging your own efforts, Facebook recently announced that it would automatically deem speech from politicians to be newsworthy, even when it violated the company’s Community Standards; exempt politician-created content from its fact-checking program — permitting anyone running for office to post or purchase ads with falsehoods; and exempt content deemed to be ‘opinion’ from its misinformation rules. Politicians should not get a blank check to lie, incite, spread hate, or oppress groups of people.”
It’s hardly even disguised that this is aimed at ads from the Trump campaign involving Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son’s dealings in Ukraine when he was vice president.
No matter how you feel about the ad in particular, this is a slippery slope, particularly when you consider the fact that political ads are now and have always been a hive of villainy and scum that makes Mos Eisley look like Disneyland. Especially given the state of fact-checking organizations at the moment (although Facebook does deserve some credit for allowing Check Your Fact, a fact-checking organization associated with The Daily Caller, to be one of its fact-checking partners despite significant headwinds from liberal organizations), once you start going allowing liberal groups to put pressure on Facebook to fact-check political ads, you can be relatively certain whose ads will be fact-checked more often.
There are further issues when one looks more closely at how the group proposes to deal with the white nationalism and supremacy issue in addition to banning these groups from Facebook: “Make a commitment that association with hate groups, white nationalist groups, and other movements organizing against the rights of vulnerable communities is disqualifying for all consultants and employees.” [Emphasis ours.]
Are you a member of a religious organization that believes in a traditional view of marriage? Read that demand a certain way and you could be ineligible for a job at Facebook.
An unpleasant augury that might lead one to this conclusion comes from a footnote in the five-page letter, in which the group criticizes the fact that “Facebook appointed former Senator Jon Kyl to lead the anti-conservative bias review and ignored his anti-civil rights record, the fact that he has made incendiary and discriminatory remarks against Muslims, and that he voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.” [Emphasis ours.]
Kyl’s “anti-civil rights record” and “the fact that he has made incendiary and discriminatory remarks against Muslims” aren’t documented. The footnote links to another letter in which an identical claim is asserted without evidence.
Beyond that, though, to this group, the very fact that Kyl voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is enough to disqualify him for the job. For lesser positions in the company, one assumes, professing support for such a measure — or simply not agreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — could torpedo your chances.
Among other demands that the group is making:
- “Publicly name, hire, and staff an office of civil rights that will review and test all new products and policies. The office must be led by a C-Suite level officer responsible for, and with extensive expertise in, civil rights.”
- “Install an independent and permanent civil rights ombudsman office that reports directly to the Board of Directors.”
- “Diversify the Board of Directors and include candidates with civil rights expertise.”
- “Increase the data regularly released as part of Facebook’s transparency report and significantly improve the ability of researchers to study the impact of Facebook’s policies and products.”
“Finally, in order to avoid harming people in ways that could be avoided, we urge Facebook to thoroughly test new products and policies by consulting with civil rights experts and thoroughly vetting products and policies internally for civil rights injuries before they are released. Prevention of harm, not damage and after-the-fact repair, must be your goal. We urge you not to let reckless policies unravel the modest progress that your company has made,” the letter concludes.
Testing these things with other stakeholders doesn’t necessarily need to be the group’s concern, mind you, but you get the feeling it would actively oppose that, too.
This is liberal power politics, plain and simple. It’s nothing as pervasive as what conservatives have asked for from the social media giant. And, furthermore, one can easily grok the fact that the pervasive nature of the demands is to exclude conservatives from the decision-making process.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is right on one thing, although certainly not for the reasons that it thinks it is: Facebook has made “modest progress” on politics. It’s abandoned the reflexive crouching stance it adopted in the aftermath of the 2016 election after liberals practically dropped the responsibility for the loss on the doorstep of Facebook headquarters. Liberal groups want to go back to those heady days when they could get their wishlists.
Make no mistake: The moment they get their talons into Menlo Park, things are going to get much, much worse than they ever were — except, of course, for the signatories of this letter and their political allies. For them, it will be easy street.
Now Facebook can find out exactly what conservatives feel like on a daily basis from the identitarian left.
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