Former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite is reported to have said he knew he was doing a good job when everyone was mad at him
If that sentiment is true, then Facebook must really be doing a great job. Everyone, it seems, is complaining about bias and misinformation on the social media site.
For years, conservatives have said the site has a pro-liberal bias, has systematically censored Republican voices and has been a world-wide mouthpiece for anti-conservative points of view And, of course, the right has provided ample evidence they say proves their point.
Now, the White House, certainly no friend of conservatives, has added its voice to the complaints, saying the site is spreading misinformation about Corona virus, vaccines and recommended health care measures. OK, so the government is complaining; that’s fine. Government officials have complained about the media since the founding of the republic.
And this past week has seen a startling escalation, as White House officials revealed plans to actively censor Facebook content related to the virus.
But wait a minute. That’s the Fox News version of what is happening. Transcripts from government officials indicate they want Facebook to limit what they consider false narratives about the disease. No one, apparently, has suggested an active plan to actually censor social media information.
It’s one thing for officials to say they are upset and would like things to change. It’s quite another take direct action to implement those suggestions.
For years the U.S. Supreme court has distinguished between speech and action. As a general rule, almost all speech is protected from government intrusion.
Just like any other institution, the government can complain all it wants, and can even suggest it will take direct action. But what it can’t do, and what it has not suggested, is take direct action to actually stop speech.
As usual, both the right and the left, republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, are spinning each other’s comments to prove their own points. But that’s what free speech is all about.
I’m Larry Burriss.