Twitter censorship gangs sent #DeleteFacebook trending this weekend after reports surfaced that founder Mark Zuckerberg did the unthinkable. It wasn’t another hacking or redesign of Facebook’s platform.
No, he did worse. He met with conservatives and listened to their concerns about real and perceived bias against conservatives, censorship of conservative views, and other issues.
You’re probably not clutching your proverbial pearls and neither am I. However, for many on the intolerant left, Zuckerberg dining with political leaders and commentators on the right side of the aisle is intolerable.
Here’s what happened…
#DeleteFacebook started trending after a news report that Mark Zuckerberg held private meetings with conservative leaders this summer at his homes to discuss major tech issues such as privacy on consumer data, the experience of conservatives on Facebook, and whether the tools developed are working such as fact-checking and partnerships.
Politico reported that folks like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Mary Katherine Ham, Guy Benson, and Ben Shapiro attended these dinners. Zuckerberg reportedly seemed genuinely interested in how conservatives were faring on the platform.
The meetings have been painted as “secretive” by the media, but let’s stop for a minute. Does Zuckerberg have to send out a press release for every person he hosts at his house? He and his guests deserve privacy and it should not be considered “secretive” or sinister in some way.
Furthermore, Zuckerberg probably meets with leaders on the left as well, but those dinners didn’t spawn a Twitter backlash.
Here’s why it matters…
Facebook isn’t just for liberals. Facebook boasts 2.4 billion monthly users. About seven-in-ten adult Americans use Facebook and they are not all liberal. Millions of conservatives also share their family photos, connect with old classmates, and consume political content online. Zuckerberg's meeting with conservative leaders is a recognition that his customers come in all political shades.
Zuckerberg also recognizes that dissatisfaction among conservative users who feel the company is working against them to censor them can (eventually) have a bottom-line impact if they choose to leave the platform for other competitors.
Finally, Zuckerberg is fighting a break-up-big-tech war on two fronts: the left and the right. Facebook, Google, Apple, and other major tech companies face real threats to their business from policymakers on the left who think they are too big and the right who think they silence conservative voices.
Twitter needs to calm down. Zuckerberg is a private citizen who can eat dinner with whomever he wants. His dinner has a clear business purpose and that’s part of doing business.
As Ellen DeGeneres recently said, it’s okay to have friends who don’t think the same way you do. Anyone who can’t see that is blinded by their own intolerance.