Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have been roundly criticized for refusing to run political ads said to include falsehoods. But according to Cato scholar John Samples, Facebook and Zuckerberg have selected the most liberal approach. “Facebook has placed the power and responsibility to decide with its users,” says Samples. “That trust is one foundation of our First Amendment and our politics.”
In a few short years, social media platforms have gone from being shiny new paragons of the internet’s virtue to globally despised scourges. Once credited with fostering a global civil society and bringing down tyrannical governments, they are now blamed for an incredible assortment of social ills. In a new study, Milton Mueller suggests that the moral panic and proposals for regulation threaten freedom and democracy far more than the social media platforms themselves.
Many conservatives argue that Facebook and Google are monopolies seeking to restrict conservative speech. In contrast, some on the left complain that large social media platforms fostered both Trump’s election in 2016 and violence in Charlottesville in 2017. Many on both sides believe that government should actively regulate the moderation of social media platforms to attain fairness, balance, or other values. In a new paper, Cato scholar John Samples argues that preventing harms caused by “fake news” or “hate speech” lies well beyond the jurisdiction of the government.