from the i-mean,-holy-shit,-dude dept
The dumb takes on social media efforts to deal with problematic content keep getting dumber. Supposedly “conservative” commentator David Marcus has now written an opinion piece for Fox somehow arguing that fact checkers used on social media sites should be regulated. He’s not the first to suggest this — we just recently wrote about a Michigan legislator who was pushing an unconstitutional bill to regulate the fact checkers, but that this is the hill supposedly “conservatives” want to die on, seems particularly stupid.
Fact checking is protected by the 1st Amendment.
It is expressive. It is a core part of journalism as well, which is doubly protected under the “freedom of the press” part of the 1st Amendment. Marcus’ article is so filled with dumb that it needs a fact check itself (as if Fox News ever did that sorta thing).
Nobody is checking the fact checkers, and it is time that changed. It?s time for government to regulate the fact checking industry.
Okay, let’s start with Fox News. Should we have government regulators crack down on Fox News consistent fact check failures? Including publishing this nonsense article? Of course not. It’s protected by the 1st Amendment as well.
This may seem antithetical to traditional conservative values of small government, but the ubiquitous and monopolistic nature of social media, the power it has to frame how we see the world, is an existential challenge. We cannot be slaves to orthodoxy if that means Americans are subject not only to lies, but also the censorship of the truth.
It’s not just antithetical to the values of small government, it’s antithetical to the 1st Amendment, which seems like a bigger problem. And, no, social media does not have “the power to frame how we see the world.” After all, studies have shown repeatedly that Fox News’s own lies have had a much bigger impact than social media in framing how people see the news. And, again, that’s protected by the 1st Amendment.
The truly incredible part in this, of course, is that folks like Marcus seem to only want regulations when he believes the people he agrees with are treated unfairly. When it’s others? He’d be the first one screaming about the Constitution. He’s not principled, beyond “my team must win, and if not, I’ll play victim.”
Marcus’ attempt to deal with the 1st Amendment issue is laughable to say the least:
The First Amendment rightly renders government powerless to regulate news outlets? publishing content from their own in house fact checkers — they are protected by freedom of the press. But third party independent fact checkers are another story entirely.
No, they’re not another story altogether. Fact checking is expressive and it is a function of the press as well. You cannot regulate it.
These are entities such as Lead Stories, Politifact, and even the Associated Press that offer their fact checking expertise to social media platforms so the latter can claim they are not making editorial decisions. But that only works if third party fact checkers are operating objectively and without bias. It is quite obvious that this is not the case.?
Again, it’s pretty fucking rich for someone on Fox News to be whining about “bias.”
So what can be done about this dangerous situation? A?new bill?before the Michigan House of Representatives is a move in the right direction. The bill would require fact checkers to register with the government and carry insurance to cover payment to those who suffer financial damages as a result of a bogus fact check.
Laws like this can establish simple, uniform practices that fact checkers must abide by to provide fairness in the service they provide.?
No, laws like that are unconstitutional attacks on 1st Amendment protected activity.
?Regulating the fact checking industry would provide much needed accountability to the American people.
No, it’s an effort to intimidate fact checkers who call out bullshit like yours, Marcus.
Facts are supposed to be stubborn. Either an article or post is factual or it isn?t.
Your article is not factual.
Regulating the fact checking industry would not be any kind of government censorship of the media; it would not deprive any publishing entity from running a fact check. It would merely ensure that companies which sell their fact checking services are applying objective standards when evaluating material. This is something they should be doing anyway, and is something that they are demonstrably not doing at present.?
I mean, come on. This one is too easy. Just turn it around: “Regulating cable news would not be any kind of government censorship of the media; it would not deprive any publishing entity of saying what it wanted. It would merely ensure that cable TV channels are applying “objective standards” in airing content. This is something they should be doing anyway, and is something they are demonstrably not doing at present.”
Same damn thing.
The American people do not just have to sit back and take it as social media platforms,?which provide huge swaths of them with their news, hire censors that lie about what constitutes a fact. ?
No, they don’t have to sit back. They can step up and speak out wherever else they’d like — such as on Fox News, or on their own websites. What they can’t do is get the government involved to intimidate fact checkers and threaten them with fines if they fact check “the wrong way.”
Again, this is easy to demonstrate with just a few changes: “The American people do not just have to sit back and take it as Fox News,?which provides huge swaths of them with their news, hires propagandists that lie about what constitutes a fact.” And, again, American people don’t have to sit back. They can ignore Fox News, they can watch other channels, they can speak out about Fox News’s continued blatant propaganda and misinformation… or they can boycott their advertisers. There’s lots they can do, and lots users of Facebook can do. What they cannot do under the Constitution, is pass a law regulating expressive activity like fact checking.
The people, through their elected officials absolutely have a right to ensure that this industry is providing a level playing field.
Again, let’s apply that to Fox News as well to see how laughable a statement that is.
If one was to sell a service in which they weighed produce to set a price it would and should be illegal for them to secretly use different scales depending on the farmer or the type of produce.
Weighing this is not expression, genius.
Throughout the past year biased fact checking has done irreparable harm to the body politic.?
Throughout the past decade, biased Fox News has done irreparable harm to the body politic. How the hell do people like Marcus not recognize that every claim they’re making applies equally back on them.
Regulating the fact checking industry would go a long way towards ensuring the American people are never misled in this manner again.?
Again, replace fact checking with “Fox News.” And imagine how David Marcus would react if there were a serious legislative proposal to that effect.
Social media companies want to have it both ways. They insist that they are not publishers and therefore not liable for what appears on their supposedly neutral platforms. But they also insist that it is fine for them to suppress content because a third party fact checker, chosen by the social media company itself, says they should.
This is not what they insist. This is what a bunch of fake “conservative” idiots have pretended they insist in order to knock down a strawman.
There is nothing special about fact checkers that protects them from regulations requiring them to be fair and honest in their dealings.
They engage in expressive activity. Which makes them protected under the 1st Amendment, just like you and me.
This entire opinion piece is full of misleading, nonsense, and blatant factual errors. But, yeah, sure it’s the “fact checkers” that need regulating.
Filed Under: 1st amendment, content moderation, david marcus, fact checking, free speech, journalism