As Democrats continue to scramble to explain Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, pundits are fingering “fake news.” Specifically, they claim Facebook and Google tarnished their candidate’s spotless record by propagating disinformation from less-than-reputable blogs across the internet. As result of the criticism, Facebook and Google are now looking to restrict the distribution of “fake news” sites, permitting only approved sources to be shared and found.
On the surface the idea sounds good. Only sources which offer “true” or factual stories could be shared and/or offered by search engines. The problem: who defines what is a “true” story? On what basis? There are good reasons not to trust Facebook or Google to make that call.
Not six months ago TTAG reported that Facebook was censoring firearms-related content on their network. Meanwhile, Facebook’s former employees revealed that the company routinely censored conservative news stories and ideas while promoting liberal news stories. Facebook was performing this process manually, employing people to watch the trending stories and alter their trajectory “appropriately.”
This was an early attempt to filter out “fake news” stories and inject “correct” news stories instead. With the downfall of Hillary Clinton and Facebook’s recent reaction to its critics, it seems clear that Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is planning to make this “filtration” process permanent.
Google is also getting into this censorship — for that is what is — business. According to Reuters, Google now plans to identify “fake news” sites and restrict them from their ad network — choking off their cash supply and driving them out of business. This follows their previously announced plan to identify “fake news” and lower its rank in the Google search algorithm.
Why does this matter for firearms enthusiasts? Facebook and Google “fake news” censorship could leave pro-gun rights web sites like The Truth About Guns out in the cold.
Take it from the editor of a gun blog that Google refuses to accept (and list) as a news source: our “facts” don’t agree with the anti-gun rights mainstream media’s “facts.” Even if the social media giant and the world’s largest internet search engine accepted pro-gun sites’ content as “authentic,” the new policy opens the door to dropping the ban hammer on a website for being “biased” or “extreme.”
By appointing themselves the final arbiters of truth and fiction, Facebook and Google are showing their disdain for the average Americans’ intelligence. They’re propping-up the hugely biased mainstream media. They’re betraying the spirit of the First Amendment. And they’re endangering the right to keep and bear arms.