Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lashed out against Twitter’s decision to add fact-checking labels to its platform (bolding below is mine).
I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.
Zuckerberg is one of the smartest men in the world, so please forgive me for not buying this. If Twitter simply removed every lie Trump venomously tweets out to whip up his followers into a frenzy, that could indeed be seen as an attempt at “arbitration of truth.”
Even then, Twitter would still be completely within their rights to do so: A private company, hello?
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t believe that adding a fact-checking label turns Twitter into an “arbiter of truth.”
This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.” Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.
How did it start?
On May 26, Trump posted a tweet claiming (among other things) that:
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.
Twitter added a little label to that tweet (and some others) that reads: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” When you click on the label it takes you to the page with other media sources where you can read more on the subject matter.
How’s it arbitration of truth? Trump’s outrageous lies have not been removed, they’re still published for everyone to see. The only thing that’s added is a label inviting readers to check for themselves if the post is accurate. And while Twitter does state that “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim …” it also provides an option to get the second opinion. And the third, and the fourth, etc.
Arbiter of truth? Because of a fact-checking label? Hardly!
Predictably, Trump didn’t take kindly to the changes instituted by his favorite medium.
So why would Mr. Zuckerberg go ahead and say something so absurd?
And, according to the Washington Post, it’s been greatly rewarded for its services, rewarded to the tune of $70,000,000. Now that was 2016. How much Zuckerberg will have taken home from the 2020 Trump campaign we’ll only find out some time later, but so far it’s been a hell of a party! Just in the first 5 months of 2020, Trump’s already spent almost $40,000,000 on the platform (outpacing Joe Biden at a rate of 2.8 to 1), and the night is still young.
So if you’re Mark Zuckerberg, how far would you go to fact-check someone who is:
A long-term customer with unlimited finances who lays you beautiful, shiny, golden eggs, day in and day out?
A habitual liar who can’t help himself even when lying is unnecessary or can hurt him?
A capricious, vindictive, thin-skinned bully who can’t take any measure of criticism?
That’s what I thought!
Of course, if these were not compelling enough reasons not to engage in any kind of a confrontation with Donald Trump, there is another one. Changing any business model costs money. Changing a business model of a behemoth like Facebook would run them a bill with a lot of zeros following other numbers. And for what? Civility? Integrity? In this day and age?
Kudos to Twitter for doing the right thing!