It has been a banner week for silliness in the Capitol: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, John Thune (R) of South Dakota, has written a strongly worded letter to Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Now, we could all speculate the real reason for Thune’s ire. (Perhaps the fact that the presidential candidate receiving the most donations from Facebook employees is Hillary Clinton?) However, the subject of his letter is that he believes Facebook is politically biased in its dispersion of news. This is likely in response to a recent report suggesting that Facebook’s news staff suppressed conservative-leaning news stories and artificially promoted some liberal ones.
Basically, Senator Thune is outraged that someone might be algorithmically tampering with what news we see–or what we don’t see–as users of an entirely free and voluntary social networking site.
I too, am appalled. Except, not really with Facebook.
As conservatives, we should be championing the rights of businesses, right? We should be the first ones lining up to protect the rights of entrepreneurs and visionaries who are running their business in what might be considered a hostile political and economic climate. Yet, Sen. Thune has taken it upon himself to decide that–even IF these recent accusations are correct, which we still don’t know–this business doesn’t have a right to decide what its users see. Thune is okay with companies using cookies to gear ads towards potential customers, but heaven forbid they steer their own customers away from a conservative webpage.
We all know that Facebook is not the most reliable source for news. It’s a social network, not an acclaimed news network. If you’re thinking that Facebook is your go-to source for news, you might want to rethink that strategy.
Either way, that’s not the point.
The point is that rogue senators sending snotty letters to CEOs of companies that receive no government funding–especially letters demanding that said companies change things, without citing a single legal reason they have to–is silly. Telling a company what to do and offering no other reason than “because I said so” is not something I’d expect out of a freshman senator, let alone a committee chairman.
Senator Thune’s letter is very, very asinine and immature. It’s also probably a pretty good depiction of why things are rarely accomplished in Congress.