There’s no denying that Facebook has had a rough couple of years. Battered by charges of political bias, the once ubiquitous social network finds itself having to compete with a cacophony of other platforms–YouTube, Qzone and Weibo in China, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, and Instagram (ironically owned by Facebook). As a result, there’s a lot of competitors for social networking eyeballs.
Facebook, like these other networks, has faced charges for years of bias against conservatives–much of it well deserved. All these companies are started by and staffed by culturally liberal, young, left coast people who don’t understand where conservatives are coming from, and often can suffer from a kind of tolerance gap against us.
The difference is that Facebook, the granddaddy of all social networks and the one that gets the most attention, is actively trying to do something about it. They have two conservative in-house staffers whose main job is to liase with the conservative movement in Washington and with activists outside of it. They recently announced they were bringing on longtime conservative Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) for a kind of “conservative audit” of Facebook.
Senator Kyl is a great choice to be this “auditor.” As a senator, he voted impeccably down the line pro-free markets, pro-life, and pro-Second Amendment. He has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 97 percent. He had a perfect 100 rating from National Right to Life. He got a “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.
Kyl was named a top ten conservative in Washington by both Human Events and Business Insider, and even made Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. When he was the number two Senate Republican from 2007 to 2013, he carried the water for death tax repeal, fighting against Obamacare, and making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He understands the frustration conservatives have with being unfairly censored or even just not taken seriously, both by the traditional mainstream media and social networking platforms like Facebook.
This audit is important–not just for Facebook, but also for conservatives. It’s vital that pro-life, pro-Trump, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-market voices are not put into right wing ghettos, where we’re only talking to ourselves. Having free and fair access to all these social media platforms–most of all Facebook, the biggest one–is absolutely essential to getting out our message to the American people. Just like Ronald Reagan used talk radio, direct mail, and televised presidential addresses to get around Big Media’s liberal bias, it’s imperative that we have that same ability on the non-traditional media of our time–social networks.
Conservatives need to feel and know that they are getting a fair shake on these platforms. To their credit, Facebook realizes they have too many internal confirmation biases to guarantee this fair shake on their own. That’s why they are bringing in Senator Kyl to make recommendations, and it’s why they have in-house conservatives on the payroll already.
I founded and help administer a Facebook group with over 3500 members. When there’s an issue, I’ve been able to resolve it pretty quickly with Facebook. Recently, I took it upon myself to help the Franciscan University of Steubenville, which (ridiculously) had a Franciscan crucifix image taken down by Facebook as a violation of community standards. Working with one of the in-house conservatives, the restriction was removed by close of business that same day. What that story shows is that Facebook has problems with inherent liberal bias, they know it, and they are willing to try to help fix it.
Some conservatives have responded to the liberal bias of social networks like Facebook with calls for more government regulation of them. That would also be a mistake. Conservatives should never use government power to “go after” our political opponents. Doing so only legitimizes the tactic of using government discrimination as a spoil of victory. By all means, conservatives should use their time with the gavel or the pen as an opportunity to tear down government restrictions on freedom and free enterprise, but we should never seek an opportunity to erect barriers to these.
Facebook is trying to do the right thing. They have taken tangible steps to show they are working in good faith. The proper response for conservatives to do now is to hold their feet to the fire and make sure they follow through on Senator Kyl’s audit recommendations. After all, we have some experience with “trust, but verify.”
Ryan Ellis is senior tax adviser for the Family Business Coalition.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.