Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been remarkably tolerant of free speech on his platform, defying liberals who want him to use his considerable powers to censor right-wing thought and speech on the world’s most popular social media site. While his attempts to thread the needle between free speech and appeasing Democrats haven’t always been successful, he certainly comes across as closer to the right side of this issue than, say, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey or Apple’s Tim Cook. Zuckerberg (generally) believes that the cure for “bad” speech is more speech.
But he’s apparently abandoned that principle when it comes to our current crisis. Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Monday if he would tolerate posts and pages that attempt to organize protests against the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, Zuckerberg confirmed that those posts would be removed.
“How do you deal with the fact that Facebook is now being used to organize a lot of these protests to defy social distancing guidelines in states. If somebody trying to organize something like that, does that qualify as harmful misinformation?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down,” said Zuckerberg.
In a statement to CNN, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the site was removing pages promoting upcoming protests in Nebraska, California, and New Jersey.
“Anti-quarantine protests being organized through Facebook in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska, are being removed from the platform on the instruction of governments in those three states because it violates stay-at-home orders, Facebook spokesperson @andymstone tells @donie,” reported CNN’s Oliver Darcy.
Look, put aside how you may feel about these protests. Maybe you think they’re just what we need right now in overzealous states like Michigan. Maybe you think the protesters are absolute idiots who should be staying inside. Forget about it. Whether you think these protests are right or wrong, you must acknowledge that we live in a free country. Either way about it, we have the absolute guaranteed right to assemble and protest. And for a site as prominent as Facebook to take these organized pages down because government officials asked them to? That’s about as un-American a thing as we can imagine.
By the way, where was Mark Zuckerberg’s censorship police when Black Lives Matter was spreading misinformation about the death of Michael Brown? Just imagine what George Stephanopoulos would have said if Facebook had removed THOSE pages.