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Does Facebook smoosh conservative posts? YES. But regulation is not the answer

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ZUCKERBERG TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you back to last week when Mark Zuckerberg, who is the founder and head of Facebook testified before members of the Senate on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he went before the House of Representatives.

There were several issues that were focused upon: the privacy issue, the censorship issue and whether or not there’s a monopoly in Facebook.  

DR. REEDER: Tom, this is obviously a story for multiple reasons. By the way, it seems as if our culture thinks it’s a story because the televised hearings where Mr. Zuckerberg was called to testify have had an astounding viewership.

WHY A HEARING? WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE?

Let’s remember that these hearings are valid. Congress has hearings because, historically, they were for the purpose of identifying issues or movements or situations in which they needed to examine to see if that affects public policy.

But now, with the presence of the media and their being televised, these hearings have taken on a new dynamic and, instead of what used to be pretty much a closed-door event in which they would ask questions to find out from the witness the information they want, now you can note very clearly that each of the Congressmen and women are vying to see who can make the best speech. Then, “Can I ask the question that is the true gotcha question so I will make the evening headline focus?” And, therefore, the benefit of these hearings gets lost.

We also begin to see Mr. Zuckerberg do what many do in these positions and what he has done, historically, whenever Facebook has been caught in a situation that is questionable or even illegal in what they are doing in order to enhance participation and number of users in Facebook. In fact, there’s a memo out there that actually says the No. 1 objective that you have as an employee of Facebook is to multiply viewers. It is not to protect the identity and information of the users, but to multiply users, even if it means that you expose some of their data, that’s an unwanted but may be a necessary casualty.

FACEBOOK HAS HISTORY OF EVASION OF WRONGDOING

Historically, he’s always said, “That was wrong. We’re going to put in new policies,” and does a mea culpa and then everything goes on and nothing really changes that much. This one seems to be a little bit different as he realizes that people may have a concern for stolen identity and people having access to their messages, to their data that they don’t want. You’re getting all kind of advertisements that clearly somebody has access to something you’ve communicated that you had no idea that they would have access to it.

And so now it’s should we regulate this and what should be the policies to regulate it? And the argument is, “Well, Facebook is a monopoly. They don’t really have a competitor.” The argument back to regulation is, “Hey, you don’t have to participate in Facebook. If you don’t want to, then don’t participate in Facebook. This is a matter of free speech, this is a matter of free enterprise and of the capitalistic system. They’re providing a service and you have to make a determination, ‘Am I willing to embrace their policies of operation? Am I willing to lose some of my security of my data that I put on Facebook, knowing that people are going to have access to it? Why should the government regulate what ought to be just the free exercise of business?’”

Well, the pushback is, “Well, they’re a monopoly.” Well, they don’t have to be a monopoly. It’s not like a utility that you can’t multiply infrastructure of utilities in a city and you’ve only got one and, therefore, it needs to be governed because the monopoly could have runaway costs so you don’t have a choice and you have no competition.

TIME FOR COMPETITION TO EMERGE, WITHOUT REGULATIONS

That’s not the case in Facebook. I would argue that you can have competition. To me, it’s very much like the news outlets going progressive/liberal/untrustworthy and then up comes Fox News and their mantra became “Fair and Balanced” — we show both sides. Now, I’m not arguing that they do or they don’t, but they came up and, all of a sudden, all of these so-called news outlets, the Big 3, before long, became the Shrinking 3 because of competition.

Well, I would suggest that the same thing can happen with Facebook, is that you can have competition. What I think the government does is make sure that competition is invited and make sure that those who would want to challenge it have an avenue to challenge it. That’s what I think ought to happen, not the regulation of Facebook and the reason why is because it’s just a matter of time if they regulate that, what else can they regulate in terms of free speech and free enterprise? And I believe that the marketplace is the best corrector of these practices.

Therefore, Tom, I think that’s the perspective that at least needs to be in the mind of those from a Christian world and life view. Now here’s the problem, Tom. Facebook, like most monopolies, when they begin to control something, what is clear is not only have they been careless with the security of their participants, but they have also governed the content of what they allow, and what they favor and what they promote in terms of communication on Facebook.

And they clearly have embraced liberal causes — I think it’s been documented that almost every single one of the leadership positions in Facebook have those who have demonstrated both by their donations and their public record a propensity toward the Progressive agenda, the Democratic Party and liberalism, specifically, and so that’s showing up in terms of how they are controlling the flow of information.

CONSERVATIVES, DON’T GET BEAT AT YOUR OWN GAME

The very group that ought to be protecting liberty of speech and free practice of business — the conservatives — tend to want to limit and govern and use regulations on Facebook because the conservative positions are those that are being isolated and marginalized by Facebook. I would just tell my conservative friends, from a Christian world and life view, you do not want to give up something that you’ve historically held to and that is free enterprise and free speech.

You do not want to impose regulations upon them. What you should do is promote competition with them because, once you set in place regulations to regulate Facebook, then those same regulations can be used to regulate you at a later date. You always have to look at the identification of a problem and realize the cure can produce a much bigger problem.

If the cure on Facebook’s careless practices and policies that tilt to the left are embraced by conservatives, then what you have done is betray your own conservative ideology. Trying to come at it from a Christian world and life view, I believe that liberty governed by essential law is the best route and what I think the government should do is simply enforce its present laws to protect the privacy and security of Facebook users, but not attempt to create new laws to regulate the content of Facebook — that ought to be a matter of competition in the marketplace.

SOCIAL MEDIA SERVES TO SPREAD GOSPEL THROUGH FREE SPEECH

And one of the reasons this is important to me, I am not a Facebook fan but I am on it because, for me, it’s one more means of communication and I certainly want access to be able to share Biblical truth and Gospel perspectives on Facebook or Twitter or any of these social media but I know that my avenue is not to regulate them to allow me to do speech over their privately owned business, one that other people could start a similar business because of accessibility to the internet and I don’t want them to be regulated.

I want to use them, but I’ve got to realize the cost of using them and be willing to pay that price. And then, if they want to regulate what I say, then what I would like is competition and that there would be other avenues to say it.

Therefore, Tom, I always love free speech and freedom to practice your business because I am grateful for my freedom to speak the truth of the Gospel and get the Good News out over any source that’s available. And I love the freedom for people to be able to create new media outlets without governmental overreach.

COMING UP TUESDAY: THE TRANSGENDER EFFECT CONTINUES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to revisit the transgender issue. There are a number of arenas in which this transgender issue is rearing its ugly head, including public policy and sports.

DR. REEDER: Very similar to today’s program — you have again, in the drive to the left, you have not only the issues of privacy, security and safety, but you also have the issue of chaos in the various arenas of life in which there is no clarity, no certainty and no boundaries and, as everyone knows, without boundaries, there is no playing field.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.