Don’t shed a single tear for him, but Mark Zuckerberg continues to be assailed for his very bad decisions about political speech on Facebook.
This time, it’s Aaron Sorkin, the man behind The Social Network, the movie about Facebook’s controversial and convoluted beginnings that Zuckerberg really, really, really wished had never been made. Sorkin laid out his argument in the opinion pages of the New York Times.
UPDATE: Oct. 31, 2019, 4:54 p.m. EDT Not only did Times have to issue an editor’s note over several inaccuracies in Sorkin’s letter, Zuckerberg hit back by quoting one of Sorkin’s movies, which you can read about here.
In the column, Sorkin unfolds a stinging rebuke of everything Zuckerberg has recently proclaimed about free speech on Facebook and his defense of that very stupid, very bad policy of allowing politicians to say whatever the hell they want on the platform.
“But this can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together,” Sorkin says. “Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives.”
Sorkin chastises Zuckerberg for allowing Facebook to devolve into the wild, wild west of the internet, saying, “I hope your C.O.O. walks into your office, leans in (as she suggested we do in her best selling book), and says, ‘How can we do this to tens of millions of kids? Are we really going to run an ad that claims Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick?’”
(If those examples seem hyperbolic, that’s because they are. I couldn’t find any evidence that they were ever posted. But they sure seem like the sort of things that would be posted to Breitbart, a site Zuckerberg is just fine working with.)
Of course, Sorkin is also the creator and driving force behind political fantasy The West Wing, so there’s a certain dose of unrealistic idealism here, as if Sorkin expected the better angels of our nature to prevail at every turn.
“Every square inch of that is a lie and it’s under your logo.”
It’s almost like Sorkin is surprised that a website that sprang from a desire to rank the attractiveness of women on Harvard’s campus (and not, as Zuckerberg recently intimated, in response to the Iraq War because come on, Mark) didn’t turn out to be a paragon of virtue and thoughtful discourse.
But Sorkin’s criticism is no less scathing because of it. Referring to an ad Facebook allowed claiming Joe Biden bribed Ukraine to not investigate his son, Hunter, Sorkin rails, “Every square inch of that is a lie and it’s under your logo. That’s not defending free speech, Mark, that’s assaulting truth.”
The column closes with a reference to the now famous dressing-down Zuckerberg received recently from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. About Zuck’s meek defense, Sorkin wrote, “If I’d known you felt that way, I’d have had the Winklevoss twins invent Facebook.”
That Sorkin’s “letter” comes literally hours after Zuckerberg’s social media nemesis, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, gleefully declared Twitter would do the opposite of Facebook by banning all political ads is simply a twist of the knife.