Free (he thinks) from a Trump administration that constantly harps on his company’s censorship of conservatives, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to promote progressive agenda items on Facebook in order to ingratiate himself with an expected President Joe Biden.
Not exactly the favorite social media platform of liberals – who think Facebook has granted President Donald Trump and his supporters too much liberty on the site to spread “misinformation,” “hate speech” and non-“expert” (think Anthony Fauci) opinions – Zuckerberg feels he has some making up to do with the Democrats he expects to be in power starting in 2021.
While not considered the threat that is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is known for her advocacy to “break up Big Tech,” Biden still isn’t happy with Facebook. He criticized the platform because it refused to fact-check political advertisements, and earlier this year called for the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from litigation over content users post on their sites.
“…Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden told the New York Times in January. “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”
So, expecting Biden to take office in late January, Zuckerberg is doing some soft lobbying. According to the Financial Times, Facebook plans a “charm offensive” by publicizing Biden agenda items like persuading users to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available, and to promote the return of the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement.
It’s not like it will change Facebook’s approach much. The platform has already been on a promote-and-censor spree on both topics: It has special information pages about climate change and COVID, reflecting official government (i.e. leftist) positions on both subjects. And any users’ posts that articulate views that dispute those positions are either shielded with disclaimers that point to the “truth” about them, or Facebook outright removes the posts. Sometimes those rebellious users are suspended from their Facebook accounts.
Zuckerberg and his minions have also been loyalists to Biden by running cover for him on vote fraud allegations, and pushing back on any disputes about the legitimacy of his “victory.” Facebook has a special “Voting Information Center” page that emphasizes the authenticity of ballot tabulations, which say things like “election officials follow strict rules when it comes to ballot counting” and “vote recounts and legal challenges are a regular feature of elections.” Translation for Trump supporters who are dubious: “Remain calm and don’t question government authority.”
Facebook also hopes to schmooze Biden and his administration with its vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, who was deputy prime minister in the United Kingdom when Biden was vice president. The pair are said to have a warm relationship, according to the Financial Times.
“A lot of the Democrats simply hate Facebook right now,” an anonymous senior Facebook employee told the publication. “We know Nick Clegg is not going to save us from that, but at least he will help us get a hearing.”
Zuckerberg has reportedly meddled in other ways with content delivery and modifying information that users see in their newsfeeds. According to the New York Times, in the days immediately after Election Day, Facebook employees were alarmed that “election misinformation” was dominating the site. Users shared (accurate) stories from conservative media outlets that detailed massive overnight vote dumps into the tallies for Biden, Republican observers being excluded from polling sites, mysterious ballots showing up by the truckload, and other apparent mischief.
From the Times report:
In response, the employees proposed an emergency change to the site’s news feed algorithm, which helps determine what more than two billion people see every day. It involved emphasizing the importance of what Facebook calls “news ecosystem quality” scores, or N.E.Q., a secret internal ranking it assigns to news publishers based on signals about the quality of their journalism.
Typically, N.E.Q. scores play a minor role in determining what appears on users’ feeds. But several days after the election, Mr. Zuckerberg agreed to increase the weight that Facebook’s algorithm gave to N.E.Q. scores to make sure authoritative news appeared more prominently, said three people with knowledge of the decision, who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
“Authoritative news” meant wider visibility of reports from liberal media sources like CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and NPR. Conservative sites like Breitbart, Daily Caller, and The Federalist were out of luck. It’s a CEO move that Biden would obviously love.
“It was a vision of what a calmer, less divisive Facebook might look like,” the Times reported. “Some employees argued the change should become permanent…In an employee meeting the week after the election, workers asked whether the ‘nicer news feed’ could stay….”
Zuckerberg also aided Biden by meddling in the election directly. He and his wife donated approximately $300 million – the vast majority to the Center for Tech and Civic Life – to boost voter turnout across the country. The left-leaning nonprofit in turn targeted the majority of the grant dollars to communities dominated by Democrat voters. The inequity in distribution of funds has been the subject of lawsuits by Republicans, including in Wisconsin.
Add it all up and it’s enough to make a viable case to Biden that Zuckerberg won’t be such a bad guy after all the next four years.