The important thing is that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, is explicitly calling for government regulation of specifically political speech on his platform and beyond. In his quest to limit expression on social media, Zuckerberg is joined not only by progressive Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) but conservative Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who are calling for the equivalent of a Fairness Doctrine for Twitter and similar services.
For those of us who believe in freedom of expression, this is a revolting development. The internet, once championed as an unprecedented engine for free speech of all sorts, is slowly but surely being locked down like a state-owned TV station in Venezuela.
Last week, Zuckerberg took to the pages of The Washington Post to declare, "I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators" on his platform and other forms of social media to prevent unspecified social harms. That op-ed echoed thoughts he aired a year ago, shortly before giving congressional testimony in which he said he welcomed regulation and would even help lawmakers write it. "I think the question is more what is the right regulation rather than 'yes or no should we be regulated,'" he said back then. When grilled by Congress last spring, he acknowledged an uncomfortable truth about mandated filtering and censoring: "When you add more rules that companies need to follow, that's something that larger companies like ours just has the resources to go do and it just might be harder for a smaller company just getting started to comply with." Both he and our elected leaders seemed just fine with that.
Yesterday, in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulous, Zuckerberg said that it shouldn't simply be up to Facebook and other private companies to set and enforce their own rules for participants, especially when it came to political speech. Instead, he claimed that Facebook and other services are now "the digital equivalent of the town square," which invites government regulation and censorship of speech (more on that in a moment). From his colloquy with Stephanopoulos: