In an exclusive Fox News interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, host Dana Perino appeared to avoid asking the tech mogul specific questions about conservatives who are being blacklisted by Facebook.
According to Breitbart, Zuckerberg said repeatedly in the interview that free expression was important, even while Facebook maintains a list of potential “hate agents” who are mostly Christians and conservatives and continues to blacklist several prominent conservatives from the platform.
It is “important to stand up for voice and free expression, here and around the world,” Zuckerberg said more than once, cautioning against the growing tendency “that a lot of people have, to pull back on free expression.”
Zuckerberg also criticized a “social trend today where I see more people across the spectrum trying to label different speech as dangerous because it may lead to political outcomes they don’t want.”
What about conservatives?
While Perino did ask Zuckerberg about allowing advertisements to appear on Facebook that liberals labeled as hateful and false, she didn’t ask about why at least two conservative politicians –Laura Loomer and UK candidate Tommy Robinson — were still being blacklisted by the platform as “dangerous,” and she failed to press him on reports of actions his company has reportedly taken to “deboost” or minimize the visibility of conservative stories and pages.
A Project Veritas report earlier this year detailed allegations from a former Facebook employee that the social media giant has programs in place to prevent or minimize the distribution of conservative material. The whistleblower reported that Facebook attached a coded function called “ActionDeboostLiveDistribution” to conservative pages, but not to left-leaning ones.
Many conservatives have come to believe that Facebook is censoring conservative content unfairly based on multiple reports like this one, so it begs the question of why Perino would steer clear of raising such concerns in her interview.
Zuckerberg’s declarations on the importance of free expression don’t mean a whole lot when the company he runs seems determined to use its power to put a thumb on the scale to help the left win the next election. Why is Fox News of all networks letting him get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth?
Saying one thing, doing another
Facebook has been accused of censoring conservatives since at least 2014, and the whole time Zuckerberg has trumpeted “free expression” while continuing to allow de-platforming, “hate lists,” and other forms of active bias against conservatives.
It’s really difficult to know the extent of Facebook’s impact on voters’ perceptions in the midst of whistleblower accusations on one hand and Zuckerberg’s assurances on the other. Some mainstream media outlets event attempted to blame Facebook for Trump’s win in 2016.
But that’s the thing about free expression. If it really is free, things might not go the way people expect.
There was enough free expression in 2016 for Trump to be elected, despite having received overwhelmingly negative press coverage. The question remains whether expression will still be free enough to let the people truly speak in 2020.