Mark Zuckerberg is a predator. Well, not actually, but in lieu of the recent Facebook policy changes, stating so on an online publication leaves him open to threats of violence on Facebook, via the site’s own policy.
Facebook Policy Change
Facebook updated its community standards in July, allowing users to call for “high-severity violence” against individuals who have carried out crimes of sexual assault. The updated portion reads:
In the “Do Not Post” section of the site, Facebook made an exception for calls of violence towards those who have committed acts of sexual misconduct. Moreover, Facebook does not require an actual criminal conviction for these threats. Rather, they allow threats against anyone found guilty in the court of public opinion.
Facebook’s change in standards comes as federal prosecutors charge Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking and conspiracy.
After re-reading Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me I’m Lying, I’m reminded as to how easily unreality can become reality. In the book, Holiday describes a class of media manipulators who get online blogs to publish whatever their employer wants them to. Fake news isn’t just a problem. For some, it’s an art form.
As a result, one can somewhat easily organize a campaign to delegitimize someone through accusations of sexual assault. Once the media picks this up, Facebook gives the green light for threats of violence. However, these claims don’t even have to be true; making the claim is enough.
Furthermore, this is increasingly problematic in the wake of the #MeToo movement. As Diana Davidson explains on Quillette, the #MeToo movement leaves an easy script for false accusers:
The #MeToo movement, along with other previous movements and hashtags, has opened up vast resources online that help victims of sexual assault seek justice, network with allies and other survivors, and recover emotionally from their trauma. This is all to the good. But as Chloe’s case helps demonstrate, these same resources can also be used as tools to create a realistic backstory out of whole cloth.
Truth is out the window. Now, all it takes is a couple of false accusers to delegitimize someone. In addition, delegitimization leaves many open to threats of violence on Facebook. So, Mark Zuckerburg may not actually be a predator, but calling him one shows the hollowness of Facebook’s own policies.
The Broader Problem of Social Media
It’s somewhat cliche, now, to rail against the modern tech giants. As conservative voices are increasingly silenced on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Americans only seem to care less.
To make matters worse, these companies are essentially monopolies. Smaller competitors like Gab and Parler don’t stand a chance to Facebook and Twitter. In the end, the digital frontier becomes increasingly dangerous. Because of the actions of these tech giants, we are only left to wonder what the future of truth and speech looks like.
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