Facebook is destroying journalism, and with it democracyPosted by Thomas Bush / March 14, 2021
Washington Monthly has levied a bold, convincing attack on Facebook, claiming that it has destabilized the media landscape, allowed for the proliferation of misinformation, and subsequently harmed democracy. The piece comes as Facebook is embroiled in controversy. For example, Facebook is facing mounting criticism over its ban of news in Australia. The company instituted the ban after Australia tried to force Facebook to pay for news content shared on the platform.
This only the most recent instance of Facebook in trouble over throttling news access. In the weeks preceding the 2020 election, the operators of some of the largest liberal pages on Facebook reported dramatic drop in their activity.
In August, Facebook fired the senior engineer who collected data showing that the company gave preferential treatment to rightwing accounts.The move comes after employees questioned Zuckerberg for Facebook’s support for right wing accounts in general, especially the far-right Breitbart.
Although many conservatives believe Facebook is biased against them, employees of the social media giant worry that the opposite is true. They say that conservative outlets and voices like Breitbart, Charlie Kirk, Diamond and Silk, and Prager University all get “special treatment” from the platfrom, despite spreading misinformation.
NAACP president Derrick Johnson has called Facebook a “threat to democracy.” He is one of the leaders the ongoing Facebook boycott, and he also said the boycotters won’t quit until Facebook makes changes.
Despite the tremendous pressure from inside and outside the company, Facebook has so far refused to change its policy on (not) fact-checking political ads. Earlier this week, a series of advertisers have added their weight to the pressure campaign: Patagonia, North Face, REI, and Ben & Jerry. Now, Verizon is pulling their money out. The more traditionally “hippie” companies like Ben & Jerries are no surprise, but Verizon isn’t generally known for its political stances, so this could be huge.