The Right is up in arms about supposed bias in the Facebook process for selection of “trending” materials, with a Senate Committee Chair effectively launching the beginnings of an investigation. Facebook is responding, seriously, making public their guidelines and procedures. The 28 page document is here.
But why are they doing this? What would the New York Times have done to a similar inquiry? What would Fox News? What if the questions came from one of China’s multiple media watchdogs. As the Council on Foregn Relations points out: ” . . . the government also employs a diverse range of methods to induce journalists to censor themselves, including dismissals and demotions, libel lawsuits, fines, arrests, and forced televised confessions.” So now we have another tool suggested to them by the right.
That’s why we have a First Amendment Of Course, Facebook, Fox, and the New York Times have every right to exlpain, if they wish, how they do their jobs, as they see they see them, and it might indeed be wise for them to do so. But the government has no more right to investigate those issues than to ask me how I decide what to write about on this blog.
Now, actually, if you think about this, there might be an exception. If an organization, say, made the advertising claim that “We Report, You Decide,” (just making this up to underline my point, of course) and there was evidence otherwise (just hypothetically again), then maybe if might be appropriate to see if there was a problem of false advertising, but I do not see any such Facebook claim (link to mission statement), (except now, perhaps in response to the attacks!) (Actually, an attempt to remove intellectual property property protection from that slogan on the grounds of “inaccuracy”failed.
That, at least in theory, underlines the legal as well as constitutional risk in responding. You may create the doorway (just like Trump denying t.hat he acted as an imposter)
If they want to be biased, that’s their right.