Facebook Speech Suppression Pleads For Repeal Of Section 230 | News, Sports, Jobs
“Lots of people have eggs on their faces” for rejecting the theory of COVID-19 lab leaks, tweeted Jonathan Karl of ABC News last week. “Some things can be true even if Donald Trump has said them. “
Or if Arkansas Tom Cotton did. “We still don’t know where the coronavirus came from. It could have been a market, a farm, a food processing company ”, he said in January 2020. “I would note that Wuhan has the only super biosafety level four lab in China that works with the world’s deadliest pathogens, including, yes, the coronavirus. “
Cotton never said he was certain the virus came from a lab leak. But as a Trump supporter he was quickly smeared, as liberal writer Matthew Yglesias shows in close analysis – for pushing “conspiracy theories” (CBS News), “spreading rumors that have been easily debunked” (Politics), “Repeat a conspiracy theory on the coronavirus that was already debunked” (Washington Post).
In each case, Yglesias points out, the authors misinterpreted what Cotton said.
A great threat to the free transmission of ideas remains: social media, which regularly suppresses freedom of expression. One of the main culprits is Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
In April 2020, Facebook slapped “warnings” over 50 million COVID-19 articles and adds that 95% of readers don’t look for original content. He boasts that he “Reduce distribution” information classified as “false” through “Fact checkers”.
Until last week, Facebook had been suppressing information for more than a year suggesting the possibility that the virus had leaked from the Wuhan laboratory.
Despite Facebook’s touted bans, doubts over China’s and Facebook’s insistence that COVID originated from Chinese live animal markets have crept into politically unlikely neighborhoods. Among those who take the lab leak seriously are:
Nicholson Baker in New York magazine last January.
Longtime New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade on May 2 in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
A group of 18 bioscientists calling on May 13 for further investigation into the origins of COVID, including the theory of lab leaks.
Then, on May 26, the Biden administration announced that it was actively investigating the hypothesis of a lab leak. It was only after the close of offices east of the Rockies that Facebook announced that it “No longer takes away the claim that Covid-19 is man-made or made. “
So, for nearly 16 months, Facebook denied readers information about a serious theory.
Facebook was allowed to censor under section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was intended to encourage, and for a time, the free flow of information. It does this by releasing websites from any responsibility for the information they transmit or refuse to transmit.
There is more and more talk among Republicans and Democrats of repealing Article 230, “to force Big Tech to take more responsibility for the editorial decisions they make.”
Facebook’s record on conspiracy theories is miserable. He was happy for years to run stories in the media about Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia. And Facebook contented itself for months with hushing up any mention of the theory that COVID-19 came from a lab leak in China. It’s zero for two, over two huge stories, with both errors pointing in the same political direction.