Congress grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week, with many lawmakers focusing on the tech giant’s supposed “hate speech” problem.
Zuckerberg assured lawmakers that Facebook was developing “AI tools” that would one day be able to totally eradicate hate speech from its platform.
Concern for hate speech is a bipartisan issue: Zuckerberg first revealed these magical AI tools after Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s questioned what the tech giant was doing to stop the supposed menace of hate speech.
A few Republican lawmakers, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, pressed the Facebook founder about his platform’s disturbing habit of conservative censorship. But only one lawmaker made the connection between that trend and the zealous pursuit of hate speech.
“Can you define hate speech?” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse asked Zuckerberg, to which the billionaire deflected.
Sasse noted how Zuckerberg cited “safety and protection” when addressing the problem of hate speech, saying it reminded him of the rhetoric of campus radicals. “We have seen this happen on college campuses. It’s dangerous.”
The Nebraska senator appeared alone in his concern that the pursuit of hate speech would inevitably result in the censorship of conservatives. Additionally, it appears our lawmakers are unaware that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment.
Or they’re just so dim as to think it’s a great idea for a company like Facebook to determine what types of speech the public should hear. Facebook can’t be trusted with your private information, but it surely can be relied on to set the boundaries of acceptable speech.
Conservatives are aware that free speech is under attack in this country. Campuses are hostile territory for anyone with a view that may be deemed offensive. Corporate power is weaponized to punish prominent conservatives. Big Tech throttles conservative-leaning news outlets.
And now lawmakers want an even greater commitment to censoring so-called hate speech.
Presently, the greatest threat to free speech isn’t the government, but big business. However, last week’s hearings with Zuckerberg show that fact might soon change.
It’s possible we could see Democrats soon campaigning on outlawing hate speech. Their liberal cohorts in Europe think it’s a problem and love using state power to punish those who utter it. What’s stopping their American counterparts from following suit?
The obvious answer is that we have a Constitution that protects free expression, no matter how offensive it is. But considering how many progressives want to repeal the Second Amendment, it’s not a stretch for them to want to transform the First.
Especially if they feel like tech companies aren’t doing enough to silence voices they disagree with.
The purpose of hate speech laws is not to protect vulnerable minorities or ensure public safety — it is all about stifling dissent. In Europe, prominent politicians who threaten the establishment, such as Marine Le Pen, are frequently hauled before courts for their public statements.
The point is made clear: follow the elite consensus or suffer the consequences.
It’s disappointing so many American lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — believe that internet hate speech is a menace that requires eradication. Pretty much everyone agrees that tech companies should clamp down on ISIS and other violent terrorists spreading their message through social media.
But the language of safety and protection can also be exploited to shut down the views of a whole host of other people — and most lawmakers don’t seem to mind.
There will always be pundits who will call for loony ideas like imposing a hate speech exception to the First Amendment. What’s worrying is when representatives start to agree with those pundits, since they can actually wield state power to make this nightmare a reality.
Hillary Clinton blamed her election loss on the proliferation of fake news and hate speech on the internet. Barack Obama has castigated Facebook and Google for giving “neo-Nazis” a platform. These are just a few of the leading Democrats and liberals who are warning tech companies to do more.
If Zuckerberg’s AI tools aren’t working to the Left’s satisfaction in a few years, it’s foreseeable that Democrats will campaign on making hate speech a criminal offense. They have to make sure another Trump doesn’t enter the White House. The First Amendment be damned.